After over a year of remote work without many formal policies in place, organizations are starting to imagine what their post-pandemic working models will look like. Some organizations want employees to return to fully in-office work, while others have moved aggressively to adopt more permanent remote or flexible work arrangements. In fact, according to a recent Topia survey, flexibility in where work gets done is a priority for > 90% of employees. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring insights and considerations to help in crafting flexible and compliance remote work policies that employees and HR will love.
For many companies and employees remote work has been a success, and adopting permanent flexible and remote working policies may drastically impact talent strategy and how work gets done long term, but there are important compliance considerations before you go down this path. It’s an easy assumption that having a laptop makes you mobile, but in fact a harmless request to work from a different state or country could create many compliance issues from permanent establishment, non-resident payroll withholding, to corporate tax and immigration risk. In enabling employees the freedom to work part-time in the office and and part time from home, or even fully remote, the question soon becomes “where are they working?” and how can we manage this new world of work.
Considerations for Remote and Flexible Work Policy Development:
- Who is in the Project Team – A distributed workforce will impact many roles across the business, therefore the project team should be cross-functional to ensure an appropriate level of representation. This could include HR, Global Mobility, IT, Finance, Payroll, Legal and Tax. Having a Global Business Leader as part of the project team will help to bridge the gap with the C-Team and drive implementation across the rest of the business.
- What is the level of flexibility you can provide? – Flexibility may include a certain number of days in the office/remotely or even fully remote. It’s critical to assess both the needs of employees as well as the needs of the business to determine a level of flexibility that aligns with business strategy.
- Eligibility for remote work – This will depend on a number of variables, predominantly centered around job roles. Once you define who is eligible for remote work, and the level of flexibility you can provide, you will need to consider who is responsible for approving it, what are the exceptions to the rule, what additional technology support is needed, is there additional training and duty of care processes required to ensure employees are able to fulfil work commitments to the best of their ability.
- Create a well defined communications plan – A crucial step of policy design is the way in which it is communicated internally, explaining the what, and most importantly the why. Include the information in multiple formats to emphasize the importance of the policy, from town hall announcements, training, emails, newsletters and team meetings. Organise manager enablement and training to ensure the policy holds over the long-term.
- Policy refinement – Determine when the policy will first be reviewed, and how often. What has worked well, what needs further consideration, what are the exceptions that have repeated time after time – should these become part of the policy or remain an exception?
Processes and Systems
Once you have a policy outline the next steps are to determine the processes and systems required to ensure the policy is manageable – setting up a mailbox to consider requests on a case by case basis could rapidly become too overwhelming for those involved. An approach could be to design a policy with a set criteria, allowing requests to work from certain locations for a given period of time, But who is going to monitor this, and how do you know when/if the person comes back….
Managing risk upfront is one piece of the puzzle, the next is having a solution in place that allows you to understand where your employees are working. Topia Compass seamlessly aggregates, analyzes, and visualizes business travel and remote workforce location to automatically identify and manage risk exposure, and provides audit defensible data post-travel, allowing individuals to work everywhere while keeping their organisations compliant.