Remote Work: Policies for the Pandemic

Remote Work: Policies for the Pandemic

Employee Policies for Return to Work

Now that many businesses have adjusted to working from home, and it looks like this may be our new normal, do you have all the policies you need to ensure that your business continues to run when your employees aren’t actually in the office?

While this can be a challenging transition for many entrepreneurs and small business owners who are accustomed to being hands-on with all areas of the business, it is a necessary one. Trusting employees to work from home requires a mindset shift. Instead of worrying about whether they’re occupying seats in the office, their effectiveness should be gauged by the amount of output they produce.

Having some key policies in place will ensure that your employees understand the expectations for working from home and, better yet, will help you sleep at night.

Remote work policy

All remote work policies need to include the basics—like eligibility, duration, reporting structure, performance measures, and conduct expectations. Much like an employment contract, a remote work policy should be vetted by a professional to ensure that you don’t open yourself up to liability issues. They should also be signed by both the company and employee prior to starting the remote work arrangement if at all possible so that expectations are clear to all parties and misunderstandings are minimized.

Cyber-Security and Data Protection

Companies must have a means of ensuring the security of their data when employees are accessing it from outside the office. This can include implementing security protocols and remote monitoring software on company-issued equipment, limiting access to VPNs or shared directories, prohibiting the use of public wi-fi networks, and restricting access to print or download confidential documents. Requiring frequent password changes and the use of locked filing cabinets or desks may also be appropriate.

Workstations and asset tracking

It is important to define which equipment will be provided by the employer and which equipment will be the employee’s responsibility. Organizations that opt to allow employees to use their own equipment for work purposes should also stipulate who is responsible for ensuring up-to-date anti-virus software and provide guidelines for keeping data safe if other members of an employee’s household use the communal computer. Detailing upfront who is responsible for the cost of home internet, phone (mobile or landline), office equipment (desks, chairs, etc.) will also help prevent unexpected expense reports and overage charges.

“Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill.” — Alex Turnbull
Policies for remote workers

Meeting Protocols

Whether on Zoom, Skype, Teams, or GoToWebinar, online meeting protocol should be pretty similar to in-person meeting protocol. Distribute the agenda in advance, show up on time (prepared for the meeting), and ensure you have a quiet, dedicated space without interruptions.  Depending on the number of people in the meeting, it may also be necessary to mute participants (or have them mute themselves) to avoid talking over one another.

Wear work-appropriate attire—if required. Not all meetings will require a collared shirt or full hair and makeup. However, professional appearance and surroundings are important, especially if you’re meeting with clients or customers. Your meeting policy should specify the level of formality expected in meetings. Always, and I mean always, test the meeting platform before the actual meeting. While exceptions do arise, nothing says unprofessional and unprepared than a meeting host who is unfamiliar with their chosen online technology platform.

“To be able to work at home successfully takes all of the following: motivation, perseverance, work, good habits, no excuses, balance, accountability and action.” — Byron Pulsifer

Availability and Responsiveness

An initial approach to evaluating the current human experience of a business is to begin with simple roleplay of customers, ranging from those who have never had experience with a given product or service before to experienced professionals seeking out a specific offering. It’s immensely beneficial to write out this “customer journey”, noticing transitions or cases that may feel noticeably smooth or forced. Creating highly specific cases can be an effective way of ensuring all your channels are set up for the experience you want to deliver,  for example instead of trying to be “an average customer”, which by any realistic measure never truly exists, it’s worth experimenting as “existing customer with high level of product understanding looking to submit a product return and provide meaningful feedback to the development team”, or a similar case of that depth. Often after pursuing 3-5 of these different user journeys, owners can have significant coverage and awareness of their channels’ strengths as well as weaknesses that can be addressed. Designing customer experiences to be more personal and customized allows for faster relationship development, as well as improved sales interactions right from the beginning. These design modifications can be anything from considering User Experience (UX) design laws when revamping a website layout, or automated workflows to provide instant response times to customer through 24/7 chatbot support options.  

This customer-centric model is truly at the core of digital transformation, and what separates it from digitization or digitalization, where data is converted to a digital format, or processes are optimized by digital options. While both approaches are necessary for digital transformation of an organization, the next step comes from using these tools as a means to redefine organizational objectives and business strategy to better provide value to the customer. As large firms continue to push the boundaries of technological innovation, platforms and digital options will become increasingly accessible to smaller businesses. With these innovations come new opportunities for using digital strategy and adoption as a means of competitive differentiation in today’s rapidly evolving markets.

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Rebecca Scott
Web Designer

Rebecca is a Web Designer at BluePrint CPAs. She is a graduate of St. Clair College’s Internet Applications and Web Development Program and has worked as a freelance web designer before joining the BluePrint team.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Kit Moore, BluePrint CPAs President & Lead Tax Advisor
Kit Moore, CPA, CA
President & Lead Tax Advisor

Kit Moore, is an entrepreneur that simplifies digital strategy for other business owners. The team at BluePrint CPAs can assist you with web design, development, analytics, management systems and, more importantly, your overall business strategy. The toughest part of digital transformation is re-training your team - and we have pros to help with that as well.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Kit Moore, BluePrint CPAs President & Lead Tax Advisor
Kit Moore, CPA, CA
President & Lead Tax Advisor

Kit Moore, is an entrepreneur that simplifies tax and financial strategy for other business owners. The team at BluePrint CPAs can assist you with financial technology, tax strategies, mergers & acquisitions, succession & exit planning and, more importantly, your overall business strategy.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Joe Marra, MBA
Senior Associate, Strategy Consulting

Joe is a Senior Associate, Strategy Consulting at BluePrint CPAs. He is a recent graduate of the MBA Program at the Schulich School of Business and has most recently worked for Bayer Inc and the Ford Motor Company of Canada. His experience in marketing, sales, and human resources spans various industries including hospitality, logistics, life sciences and automotive manufacturing. Joe loves working with entrepreneurs to develop their digital strategies and help them grow their business.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

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