The rise of remote work has helped companies hire great talent from across the globe without having to face challenges like logistics, commuter delays, and home responsibilities. Companies like Automattic and Buffer have perfected the art of managing remote employees. But, for these companies, perfecting the remote working culture within their teams has only been possible with work from home guidelines and policies that have been laid out for their employees.
If you’re thinking of allowing remote work within your company or transitioning to a remote culture for your team, you may want to read ahead!
We’ve observed the practices picked up by companies who successfully manage remote employees and have put together 10 work from home guidelines to help you replicate success.
10 Work From Home Guidelines to Help You To Manage Remote Employees
1. Structured work hours
Have every remote employee set their work hours, even if you allow a flexible schedule for your team. Having a structure in place can give them a sense of schedule and they’ll be much more likely to start working on time and check out of work when they were supposed to. With a structured schedule, you can manage your remote employees without having to guess when they’ll be starting work.
This structure can also help the employee maintain a work-life balance. Make it a rule for managers to not ask for employees to work on anything after the employee’s work hours.
If you have a team of mixed schedules, including shift workers, you should check out our guide to employee scheduling to understand schedule management better.
2. Use time tracking to create accountability
To enforce each employee’s work schedule, you can set up time tracking apps that record when the employee has started and ended work each day. Since your employees are working remotely, it’s hard to gauge whether the employee is working at the time they are supposed to. Time tracking apps have simplified the way remote teams can stay accountable.
AttendanceBot lets you set up time tracking systems right within your communication platform— whether it’s Slack, Microsoft Teams, or G Chat. Employees can “check-in” when they start working, send a quick message when they step away from their desk for a break or for lunch, and “check out” when they end their workday.
This data is then recorded at the backend so that you can access and monitor each employee’s work hours.
3. Daily check-in with the team
Besides keeping your team honest with their time, it’s also important to keep them accountable for their work. Many successful remote teams use the “daily check-in” method of keeping each other more honest with the work they are doing.
The employee just needs to answer a few questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What do you plan to do today?
- Do you have any blockers?
This simple system can be implemented as a message within the department’s Slack channel or on a daily stand-up call.
Here’s what one remote employee says about daily check-ins:
“Our team has a daily standup meeting each morning where we share what we’re working on for the day. On days I’m working from home, I tend to slightly overcommit on what I’ll deliver that day. It helps keep me honest, so even if I get the urge to go do something else, I know I’ve already committed a certain amount of work to my team.”
4. Equipment requirements
Just like in an office environment, you should consider paying for the equipment that your remote employee needs to work productivity. This equipment would include a laptop, mouse, headphone, and even a coffee allowance. Providing these necessities to your remote employees can help them work more efficiently.
You could even think of allotting a budget for your remote employee to rent out a desk at a coworking space next to their home so they have a dedicated space to work out of.
5. Common channel of communication
You don’t want your remote employees to ping pong their conversations between multiple channels— email, Slack, WhatsApp, etc. That’s why you have to set up a rule to keep all communication in one place. Successful teams keep all their conversations on Slack and within the channels that are relevant to the conversation
Many remote managers have sworn by over-communicating to help keep the team on the same page, avoid miscommunication, and stay transparent with their work. They swear by communicating on channels rather than within direct messages where the work conversation may get lost.
Pro tip 1. Over communicate: Assume 0 knowledge of your coworker while discussions and add as much context as you can. Conveying facts is important but explaining the thought process behind it makes it crystal clear. Always try to use public channels vs private chats for work.
— Ayush Jaiswal (@aayushjaiswal07) January 22, 2019
However, too many messages can be distracting for your employee. This blog has a few ideas on how to minimize noise on your Slack without compromising on communication.
6. Set up a work from home policy
By setting up an airtight work from home policy, you can make it clearer to your employees about your expectations from them and avoid leaving things open-ended.
Here are a few details that your work from home policy should cover:
- Eligibility: If you allow remote but aren’t a fully remote team, you may want to set down guidelines as to who qualifies for remote work. This may be employees in different cities and countries than your company’s HQ, employees with responsibilities at home, employees with health restrictions, etc.
- Work hours: Make it clear how many hours you want your remote employees to work for. Typically, this is 7 to 8 hours a day but this would change for shift and part-time workers. If your employee puts in more time on certain days, be sure to specify how they can take compensatory days off for it.
- Equipment provided: Let your remote employees know what kind of equipment you’ll be paying for, whether it’s a laptop, mouse, and other gadgets like phone, camera, etc.
- Violations: Specify what would constitute as violating your work from home rule. You can specify the need to put in the basic hours per day or finishing tasks as per deadlines.
- Perks and benefits: List down the different benefits your employees are privy to so that they can work productively in their remote environment. For instance, Automattic gives their remote workers a budget to allow them to decorate their office, buy a specific time of coffee, and do up their workspace in a way that helps them be more productive.
7. Performance tracking
The work done is the best way to measure your remote employees’ performance. That’s why you need to embed a smart performance tracking system within your team. Now, there are 2 ways to track and reward performance.
The first kind of performance tracking involves a daily effort. Apps like Lattice and HeyTaco let employees praise each other about the work done, making employees more likely to show appreciation for good work and work harder to prove their great performance. This frequent performance praise can help you monitor the good work done by your remote employees and build a good rapport among your team.
The second kind of performance tracking can be done with 1:1 meetings with your employees on a monthly basis. Use this meeting to understand the employee’s weaknesses and their issues and blockers with work. Having this insight can allow you to help them solve their pain points.
8. Onboard to a common project management tool
When working remotely, managing your projects needs to be seamless. A good project management tool can help you plan your tasks, stay on top of future work, and monitor remote employees’ work. Project management tools allow you to assign tasks, create dependencies, and set deadlines. Your remote employees will get reminders of their tasks and have a visual dashboard to manage their workload smartly.
Teams across the globe have their own preferences for the kind of project management tool they prefer. Teams who want a visual kanban style dashboard go for Trello, which is minimal with enough features and power-up integrations to manage all your work in one place.
Asana lets many teams customize their project and tasks, whether it’s in a kanban board or a listicle. It is commonly used for sprint planning and tracking.
Jira is much more extensive and allows you to manage your projects and your product in a more high-level manner. You can define workflow, manage daily tasks, and get reports on the work done.
9. Absence and leave management
With a remote team, you need to be especially clear on what your leave policy looks like. Your first step should be to set a leave policy if you haven’t already. When setting up your leave policy, ensure that you take into consideration how different countries have defined their leave laws, especially since your remote employees would be scattered across the globe. Define these leaves on AttendanceBot‘s leave management dashboard.
Once you have a policy in place, your leave management process should run smoothly. Have your employees request for leave directly on Slack using AttendanceBot. Once the leave is requested, the employee’s manager would get a message asking to approve the leave. Approved leave is then recorded at the backend. You get a message notifying you about this leave so that you can stay updated without having to go through emails to understand who is on leave when.
10. Build rapport with weekly activities
Building a relationship with your remote team may seem tough. Your team isn’t physically connected to each other and you may not think that you need to prioritize this need. However, a good team relationship can help to motivate your remote employees and get them pumped to work harder.
Set up weekly team building activities to facilitate connection. Buffer, for instance, has “Watercooler Wednesdays”, where their remote team gets on their watercooler” Slack channel to ask a random question every Wednesday.
Some remote teams set up Slack apps like Donut, to automatically pair employees and nudge them to engage with each other.
You can read more about building deeper relationships with your remote employees from our guide to managing remote teams.
Set Up Your Work From Home Guidelines Now!
We hope these 10 tips helped you put more structure and rules to your remote working team and monitor your remote employees more efficiently.