INDOOR: If you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need to know what to look for in a remote work policy to make sure everyone is on the same page. Read on to find out what to include so that misunderstandings don’t happen.
If you are entering the remote workforce for the first time, you may not be sure what is expected of you. Outside of the workplace, there may be rules and requirements that you have never considered. And things can vary greatly from company to company and even from industry to industry.
Fortunately, many companies spell it all out in their remote work policy. This is a document that you will not only be asked to read, but also likely to sign before starting your new position. Here are some of the important things you’ll want to make sure you understand.
What to look for in a remote work policy
Before you start, make sure you know the difference between working remotely and working remotely. And if telecommuting is what you’re doing, follow these guidelines on what to look for in a remote work policy.
Now, let’s go deeper. Here’s what should be covered in your remote work policy…
employee vs. Independent contractor
Most people come from a traditional employee background where their employer deducts taxes from their paycheck and they don’t have much to worry about when it comes to filing income taxes. If his new role will classify him as an independent contractor, he’ll need to save money for taxes and maybe even pay them quarterly. This is something you should discuss with a professional so you are not in for any surprises.
If you are a remote employee or an independent contractor, you can also determine how much flexibility and freedom you will have. Labor law regulations dictate how much control a company can have over a worker, even if that worker is remote.
Employees often have more rules to follow and their hours may be more determined by the employer. Independent contractors may have more freedom, but may be giving up benefits such as pay or guaranteed benefits.
This is definitely something you’ll want to read up on and make sure you’re clear on how your function will be defined.
The schedule of working hours can be very different from one company to another. Some companies may make you work the same hours and days each week. Other companies may allow you to choose what hours you want to work week by week, but you will need to do this in advance. Make sure you know what is expected of you, especially when it comes to flexible work hours.
And on that same note, make it clear up front how things are handled in case you’re sick or have an emergency. How far in advance and by what method should you inform them of your absence? Will you need to find someone else to cover your shift? How much free time is allowed before there are repercussions?
paid vs. Unpaid time on the clock
Payment terms can get a bit complicated in the world of remote work. Unlike traditional employment where you are typically paid from the time you join until you leave, work-at-home businesses sometimes do things a little differently:
pay per minute – When you see a job that pays by the minute instead of a flat hourly rate, this usually means that you will only be paid for the minutes that you are actively working. This is more common in customer service positions where you won’t be on the phone every minute of your shift. In these cases, you are not paid for the waiting time between calls. You only get paid for the time you are actively engaged with a client. Sometimes this works fine, sometimes it doesn’t. Some companies will offer a guaranteed minimum hourly rate for backup.
payment on completion – There are some positions that offer pay based on production. This is often the case with lead gen roles, but you’ll also see it in industries like transcription. You are not paid for the hours worked, but for the work performed. Each lead or minute of audio is assigned a flat rate. The faster and more accurately you work, the more you’ll get paid.
However, many companies still offer a remote worker, especially an employee, a flat hourly rate. Just make sure you read all the fine print.
Another requirement that may be unpaid is training. Some companies do not pay you for instructional time. This is a possibility almost exclusively for independent contractor positions, so be especially diligent in reviewing the terms of those opportunities.
Equipment and software requirements
As you search for a remote job, you’ll likely see that some positions list various equipment and software requirements, while others don’t. This is largely the case when working online. Freelance writers, for example, can often get their job done with minimal technology requirements, while those in the customer service industry may have a long list of specifications they must meet, such as internet speed, computer memory , Ethernet cable, landlines, etc.
There is no one-size-fits-all list of requirements. Every job and every company can be different. This is a section you’ll want to pay special attention to, as these requirements are often at your own expense and necessary before you start working. If there is to be reimbursement of expenses, please confirm how that request should be made.
If you’re new to remote work, one of your biggest questions may be how you’ll communicate with your virtual team. Some companies just use email, others may like to use the phone, others may use a special platform for remote team communication.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s clear how responsive you’re expected to be. Do they expect you to answer emails even in your off hours? How much notice is required if you need time off?
Final Thoughts on What to Look for in a Remote Work Policy
Many people choose to telecommute expecting fully flexible work arrangements and plenty of leeway with their time. That is not always the case.
A remote work arrangement doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be a bit confusing at first. If you don’t understand what something means, never hesitate to ask. You probably won’t be the first person, nor will you be the last, to have that question. And remember. That work-at-home policy is in place to protect you, too. Inside it is a remote work agreement that both of you must abide by.
If you need help negotiating the terms of your remote work policy, Click here.
Does your employer need help creating a remote work policy? direct them here.