Below is a framework to build a policy document on remote working. The  contents of this guide should be tailored to each company’s needs and be considered a starting point to discuss and agree with leaders and managers.

Purpose

The organisation aims to facilitate all those whose role and outputs enable them to work from home, and to do so immediately. We recognise that this may not be possible for all roles, and will ensure that those attending the workplace can do so in the safest way possible, with minimal contact. We will consider opening longer hours and at weekends to facilitate this if deemed appropriate.

Remote working is not a replacement for dependent care. Where employees require time off to care for children or other dependents, these should be discussed with their manager, and we will consider alternative leave arrangements which may include altered shift-patterns, working-up time taken, rearranging parental leave, taking annual or unpaid leave.

We will monitor that access to remote working does not have any unintended discriminatory impact. This guidance will be updated as we understand what work’s best and how to improve our ways of remote working, and we invite feedback on this.

Contractual elements

Currently remote working is a temporary agreement between employees and managers/ the organisation to allow employees to work from a non-office location, as per government guidance, to reduce the spread of Covid-19. It is expected that during remote working, employees will follow all government and medical guidance on isolation, social distancing and other prevention measures.

In these circumstances, working remotely is not a change in contractual terms. Applications for more long-term remote working are not being considered during the current crisis.

Compensation

Compensation is determined by job role. Pay and benefits are not altered by virtue of remote working. As per normal, incurred business expenses will be reimbursed, but there is no contribution to normal household expenses (e.g. electricity, internet, rent). Normal business expenses require written approval from your manager in advance, and must comply with the company’s expense policy.

[OR Remote employees will receive [xxx] per month as a remote-working allowance to cover office-related costs.] Employees are responsible for checking with their house insurance provider to ensure home working is covered by their insurance policy.

Equipment

We will provide access to the company network and company-required software for employees who are either working on company laptops or their own equipment. Equipment and systems that we provide are company property. Employees must keep them safe and avoid any misuse. We will not provide secondary equipment (for example, printers and screens).

All employees, whether using company or personal equipment must:

  • Keep all systems password protected, and ensure a screen is locked or off at all times when not in use.

  • Store equipment in a safe and clean space when not in use.

  • Follow all GDPR, data encryption, protection standards and settings at all times, ensuring that anyone who is not an employee does not have access to company information, whether confidential or not.

  • Refrain from downloading suspicious, unauthorised or illegal software.

Remote working that works

To ensure that employee performance will not suffer in remote work arrangements, we advise our remote employees to:

  • Choose a quiet and distraction-free working space.

  • Have an internet connection that’s adequate for their job.

  • Be able to access and use all relevant systems and tools.

  • Stay in touch with managers and colleagues.

  • Agree the flexibility around work times with their teams and managers.

  • Ensure their schedules overlap with those of their team members as is necessary for all to complete their roles effectively.

While working remotely, all employees must:

  • Dedicate their full attention to their job duties during their periods of work.

  • Maintain the required standard of performance.

  • Comply with the standards, behaviours and policies laid down in the contract of employment and employee handbook.

  • Work in a safe manner.

Team members and managers should determine long-term and short-term goals. It is the role of managers and team leaders to:

  • Hold regular online team meetings to share updates, discuss the work programme, agree ways of working, and support employees.

  • Hold frequent one-to-ones to discuss outputs, progress and development options.

  • Provide, or organise, guidance on tools and systems to help employees adjust to new ways of working.

  • Be clear about how the performance of employees will be measured.

  • Stay calm, acknowledge and manage the anxiety of staff caused by the current upheaval.

Development

In line with our wider upskilling agenda to deal with changing technology and jobs, we do not want to lose sight of our ongoing learning and upskilling programme of work. We will look at current organisation-wide development plans and identify what may continue online.

It is important that managers and employees review individual learning needs in light of remote working and changing job requirements. We will seek to and host webinars to support immediate skill needs, to identify internal and external online options of value, and encourage individuals to draw on recognised online learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and FutureLearn.

Health and well-being

The company retains its responsibility for the health and welfare of staff. Employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and colleagues/customers, not to engage in improper behaviour and not to be under the influence of drink or drugs at work.

At all times employees must:

  • Comply with our normal working time policy and time recording requirements.

  • Have a safe place to work, and work in a safe manner. Please complete a home working assessment form here.

  • Stay in touch with their manager and colleagues to provide social engagement, have a ‘e-cup of tea’, a chat over lunch.

  • Take regular breaks and build exercise into their daily routine.

  • Know that the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available at all times.

Time to adapt

A study in the Harvard Business Review (Wiryakusuma, Chai, King and Pointer, November 2017) on supporting employees to embrace flexible work identified three important behavioural barriers to employees taking up flexible work:

  • Social norms – the organisation’s culture of working hours, whether that is 9-to-5, presenteeism, etc.

  • Staff perceptions of managers’ acceptance - and fear of being negatively judged by their managers.

  • Individual life styles and habits - commuting is known to be one of the “stickiest,” most resilient habits that we have.

Therefore, it is important to recognise that that some individuals may struggle while attempting to work from home in the current exceptional circumstances. For the majority of people, remote working requires that they change the way they work, and many aspects of their work significantly. Not everyone will be comfortable in making that effort, and time and support from managers will be required to help them adapt.


The practices we embed now will sow the seed for the future of agile and flexible resourcing. While responding to an emergency in 2020, it is still right to invest in ensuring that remote working is implemented in an effective, productive and supportive manner.

For more information and resources visit cipd.ie/coronavirus

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