How to Establish Successful Remote Work Policies as a New Remote Company

Remote Work PoliciesWith the Covid-19 global pandemic spreading at an unprecedented rate, we’ve had to adapt to a world of social distancing, relying in online communication, learning and work to move forward with our lives.

During the lockdown kids have had to start taking online classes instead of going to school, we hang out with our family and friends through communication apps instead of meeting up in real life, and many companies have started to work from home instead of going to the office.

Many companies that hadn’t embraced remote work had to transition fast to work from home during the lockdown, and to help, we created a few resources, like “the new work from home worker checklist“, “top cybersecurity considerations when working at home“, “How to stay fit while staying at home during lockdown“, among others.

We have also witnessed how the work from home experience during the lockdown has made many companies to change their minds about it, deciding to switch to a remote work setting after, some until the end of the year like Google, or even indefinitely, like Facebook and Shopify! We did a poll asking about it and covering the trends, challenges and what to expect in the future in The Big Coronavirus Remote Work Shift article.

One of the challenges when analyzing the current remote work shift is that companies that have just started or expect to start soon will still need to update their work policies to become whether remote-first or at least, remote friendly.

But what does this mean? If you’re one of those companies in the process to update their remote work policies, here are some of the fundamentals aspects to take into consideration:

Remote Hiring

Hiring remote workers means that you’ll have access to a much bigger talent pool and that your chances of finding the perfect fit for each position are higher.

However, it also means that you’ll have to adapt your interviewing process to make sure the candidate has what it takes to be efficient while working from home because the reality is that not everyone is cut out for it.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider local regulations of the countries the candidates are from, to make sure you can legally hire them and if not, have alternatives, like establishing contractors agreements.

Here are resources to help you developing an effective remote hiring process, shared by experienced remote companies:

Remote Onboarding

Onboarding is all about making your new employees to become part of the team from day one, and you can do so by using the right technology and investing in your company culture (which we’ll get into soon).

Make sure to send each new employee a comprehensive handbook with all what they need to know about their role expectations, the team they’ll be part of, where they can find the tools to use, how to communicate within the team, and set trainings and guidance during the first weeks.

Experienced remote companies have shared their onboarding processes, so you can learn from them:

Remote Toolkit 

Remote work is only possible because of the internet as well as cloud based software that allows us to communicate, coordinate, collaborate, execute and make our work accessible internally as a team as well as to clients or customers.

However, it’s important to have a consistent and standardized set of reliable tools for common activities -from security to project collaboration, communication, etc.- that the whole team can use as it provides the desired functionalities in a safe environment that you can access independently of the location, and for which you should provide manuals, procedures to use and trainings.

So, whenever you onboard a new team member, along a new laptop -and any other remote physical workspace resources and tools- they should also receive a list of tools to install and use, along assistance on how to do it.

To help you with this process we have a section in Remoters dedicated to remote work tools you can choose from.

Work Hours and Schedule

Have clear guidelines about working hours, taking into consideration that you’ll tend to have now employees who could be working in different timezones, establishing best practices to facilitate the communication between team members who are working between different ones, as well as to avoid overworking, which is common when working remotely.

You can establish the use of time-tracking tools, as Hubspot does; focus on results over the number of hours worked; and adjust to flexible working hours, instead of the 9-to-5 routine you’re used to.

Take a look at how these remote based companies have done it:

Work Privacy and Security

Ensuring physical and virtual privacy and security while working remotely is about educating your staff on security best practices as well as to invest in the relevant software, hardware and establishing measures to follow.

For examples, setting a password manager to be used by all team members in their work laptops and devices, installing and using an antivirus, setting a cloud based data back up system that is run daily, using encrypted communication channels; installing and using a VPN when accessing sensible information, as well as establishing the use of headphones when doing conference calls when sensible topics will be discussed, among others.

Check out the following guides to help you set your own remote first privacy and security protocols:

Remote Workspace, Communication & Collaboration

The remote virtual workspace

Effective communication and collaboration are key for any company, but even more so for remote ones, in which the teams won’t be all based in the same office, where you usually tend to have easier real time access to exchange or verify information with other team members.

In which case team members should use text, voice or video? In which should they send chats, calls, emails or messages? When should the information be sent to all or only one or a few team members? Which platform should be used given the nature and goal of the communication?

Setting both real time and asynchronous communication and collaboration channels, through both text and video, and knowing when to use each, is critical, and is therefore fundamental that you establish a “virtual” workspace that supports the different types of communication and collaboration needs of your team, giving clear guidance about their use to avoid intrusiveness, misuse and leaving some team members out of the loop.

The remote physical workspace

Besides providing a virtual workplace for your remote based team to be able to work at, it’s also fundamental that you provide the resources for them to effectively work independently of their location, starting with a laptop to work from, many remote companies like Buffer will also give money to employees to set a home office and buy necessary gadgets like headphones, video camera and microphone or a monthly stipend in case they prefer to work from a coworking space or a coffee shop.

Take a look at how remote companies have set their workplaces to maximize productivity, facilitating communication and collaboration:

Remote Leadership and Management 

With a lack of “in-person” supervision and communication, potential social isolation between team members, as well as home distractions, managing a remote team requires a high deal of guidance, coordination, trust, support, shared goals and a culture of accountability.

It’s fundamental to be clear and honest about expectations regarding due dates and relevant updates; and to give employees the necessary support, validation and guidance to achieve the desired goals, as well as to facilitate coordination via a project management and communication tool.

Check out how experienced remote companies like Gitlab, toggl, Zapier or Trello do to manage and lead their remote teams:

Remote Salaries and Benefits

Working remotely shouldn’t be used as an excuse to pay less. Basecamp, monitors industry salaries -standardized on the San Francisco market- and pays in the top 10% based on skills and experience for every position, independently of the location.

Buffer on the other hand, to establish a fair salary uses a transparent salary formula, taking into consideration

  • The role base: An overall base (using Payscale and Glassdoor US data), a location base (factoring location cost of living using Numbeo), a cost of licing correction (an addition to some salaries), role value (a multiplier to adjust the overall salary for some critical roles)
  • The experience: Used as a multiplier of the role base.
  • Loyalty: A raise as salary percentage after each year.
  • Choice: To get extra salary or extra stock options.

Besides this is also fundamental to establish paid vacation time and leave policies, healthcare coverage, life insurance, wellness allowance and others, in order to keep competitive in a global market to attract the best professionals in your sector.

Take a look at these guides about remote salaries and compensation, to take into consideration when establishing yours:

Company Culture

Last but not least, fostering a strong company culture while working remotely is possible, with the right shared goals, values, vision and mission, as well as a fluid communication and support system within the team.

It starts when hiring “the right” team members, developing a sense of accountability across the team, establishing an open, transparent environment to share ideas and feedback, doing virtual team building, having watercooler chats, doing team retreats, among other actions.

Check out these guides about how experienced remote based companies do to establish and develop their culture:

There hasn’t been a better time to be remote

The work from home experience during the Coronavirus lockdown has already shown to many otherwise skeptical companies, that is possible to work remotely. Now is the time to establish the necessary base to shift to a remote work environment and grow your company as a remote organization by updating your work policies accordingly.

Check out prominent remote based organization remote work guides:  

And more remote resources from remoters.net: 

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