The COVID-19 pandemic has brought swift and major changes in our daily life. It fundamentally transformed and evolved the workplace culture, as many corporate business employees work remotely from their homes.
Many experts predict that the workplace culture is never likely to be the same in the post-pandemic era. The new culture will become the norm in the coming future, with employees working remotely for flexible hours and having a better work-life balance.
With this changing workplace culture, organizational leaders have to devise policies, including:
- How will the remote working policy operate?
- What should be included in a remote working policy?
- What are the best practices for work-from-home policies to function successfully?
For this purpose, there is a need to devise a remote working agreement for successful remote business operation.
A remote working agreement is a living document that sets expectations and outlines how the team will work remotely. So, let us look at some essential steps needed to draft a remote team working agreement.
One of the most efficient and prevalent work-from-home guidelines for employees to work remotely is called ICC Workflow. The three categories of the process are Information, Collaboration, and Commitment.
How to prepare a Remote Team Working Agreement?
A few essential clauses need due consideration while drafting a successful remote working agreement. These clauses are as follows:
At the outset, the organization must determine which employees are eligible to work remotely. By analyzing the nature of their job, work profile, and operating model, they could decide on whether they could work remotely or not. Every job is suitable for remote work; therefore, careful analysis of this aspect is crucial.
Although remote work is flexible, businesses should lay down a regular schedule for the employees. Such scheduling would ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the assigned tasks and also adherence to deadlines.
3. Equipment & tech support
For timely completion of given tasks, the companies should promptly equip themselves with the best tech support system to solve any tech-related problem.
Further, companies should clearly state the tools and equipment required for a particular job. The company should also clarify what equipment they will allot to employees.
One of the biggest concerns of many establishments is the confidentiality aspect. Thus, the organization should incorporate specific clauses laying down its confidentiality policy in the remote work agreement. This approach will maintain the trust of clients and also keep intact the company’s credibility.
Active collaboration of each team member is necessary to prepare a successful and permanent remote work agreement. In this context, calling a meeting would be the first step.
Here, organizational leaders should remember that the meeting should be exclusive to employees’ input for drafting the remote work agreement. Employers should inform employees of this meeting in advance.
Prior intimation will allow them to think, reflect, prepare beforehand. Thus, they will contribute meaningfully to the discussions during the session.
Further, distribute the working agreement sample with the employees. Subsequently, they get sufficient time to understand its contents and suggest any positive changes to it.
After all, the remote team working agreement is for the benefit of employees; they are the ones on whom it would be binding. So it would be preferable to give them autonomy to determine its contents.
Recommended Read: A Guide to Hiring and Managing Remote Teams
What to discuss and contemplate?
It is vital to set the session’s tone for successfully drafting the remote work agreement.
Start the meeting with a virtual tour of the employee’s space from where they are working. This approach would enhance rapport between employees. It would also create an open, free, positive environment for honest discussions on the substantial agenda of the session.
Then, it is time for discussing various agendas of the meeting so that the organization can achieve a consensus on the work from home rules. At this point, brainstorming on multiple regulations and guidelines of the Remote Team Agreement is imperative.
Formulate a list of questions on the agreement’s contents under the information, communication, and collaboration heads. The team can deliberate on these questions. A possible list of a few questions could be:
- What tools are to be used for official communication at the workplace?
- What type of information is to be shared team-wide?
- Where is that information to be stored?
- What is the reasonable response time to be expected from each other during official communication?
- What will be the system for the feedback on the submitted work?
- What will be the redressal system for resolving conflicts within the team?
- What will be the core working hours?
- How to deal with fatigue and burnout from work, and what will be the policy to tackle the mental health-related problems?
- What will be the hierarchy, and who will report whom?
- What will be the arrangement for the delegation of power and authority?
There could be many more questions that could vary from organization to organization and from team to team.
How to gain commitment?
Now, after agreeing to the contents of the remote working agreement, it is time to ensure its enforcement and commitment of employees towards it.
To achieve commitment, transform the answer to each question mentioned above into a declarative statement. After this exercise, there will be a clear list of agreement points. These points will touch upon collaborating and communicating with each other while ensuring commitment on agreed terms.
Further, make the contents of the remote working agreement in simple, clear, and unambiguous terms. Lastly, a copy of the agreement should be readily available to employees. Also, it should be updated periodically based on the feedback received from employees.
It is crucial to draft a remote working agreement in clear terms and flexibility with an ever-changing and dynamic work environment. There is no exhaustive list of heads that you could include in the agreement.
But the points mentioned above would make its implementation and enforcement easy for any business organization.