6 must-haves for an IT remote-work policy

With the wild winter weather that ripped through the East Coast last week, many IT departments were forced to adapt and allow workers to telecommute – an arrangement a lot of IT pros aren’t really wild about. But whether you’re in the zone that got hit or not, preparing for the occasional or planned work-from-home day is increasingly a reality. 

Here are six things that should be included in any policy for IT staffers who work remotely.

1.Is it allowed?

First and foremost, working from home isn’t always an option for a lot of positions in IT. Some jobs just need to be done on-site.

When crafting or refining your work from home policy, make sure you have clearly outlined which positions are or aren’t eligible to work off-site. Be prepared to explain why some things need to be done in the office rather than at home. Otherwise, you could have some unhappy techs to answer to and accusations of favoritism.

2. How is the decision made?

Does an employee need to request the work from home in advance? If so, how far in advance should the request be made.

You may be able to accommodate requests for a day out of the office in a week for a doctor’s appointment. But calling up five minutes before they’re due in the office to say they’re having car trouble might not fly. Be consistent with whatever timeline you require.

3. What does working from home look like?

You can’t go into an employee’s house to inspect their home office, but you should make certain suggestions for what their work area should be like. This includes things like having a quiet space that they can be productive in.

At the same time, it should also address what kinds of equipment are needed to work remotely, such as:

  • computer specs
  • type of Internet connection and service provider
  • smartphone or regular cell phone
  • land line
  • fax
  • printer
  • scanner
  • copier, or
  • any other equipment they may be expected to need on the job.

Not all of these may be necessary, but include the items that are required for getting work done.

4. Who foots the bill?

If workers are required to have a cell phone or other device for working from home, who pays for it and the service it needs? This will usually be incurred by the IT staffer, but make sure it’s in writing just in case they have any question over it later.

5. What’s the schedule?

Are workers who are out of the office expected to keep their normal schedule? Are they granted flexibility to start the day earlier or work outside of their normal hours?

Some take “work from home” to mean “set your own schedule.” It’s OK if your department permits it, but make it clear whether or not that’s the case.

6. How do we communicate?

If your employees are going to be off-site, they still need to be in contact with the same people they would be if they were in the office: users, co-workers, and you. Since face-t0-face conversations are out of the question, make it clear how they should get in touch.

If it’s a phone call, explain that they’ll need to be by the phone and ready to answer at all times. If it’s email, set a timetable for how quickly they should respond to messages.

And it’s also wise to address how they should let co-workers know they’ll be out of the office. A note on the desk, custom voicemail message and auto-reply email alerting whoever contacts them to their off-site status is a good way to cover all the bases.

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