What should you include in your remote work policy?

As a manager or small business owner, you’ve seen the light and decided to expand your team by adding remote workers. Maybe you found the best man or woman for the job halfway across the country. Maybe you want to save on overhead costs and keep your current small space. Maybe you’ve noticed your employees get more work done at home. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to dive in and commit to supporting web working. Now all you need is a remote work policy that lays out everything your employees need to know.

Why is this necessary? As Microsoft (s msft) pointed out in its remote work survey last year, having a clear, written, consistent policy reduces conflict and anxiety. Rieva Lesonsky, president of GrowBiz Media, explained in the findings:

One classic mistake entrepreneurs make is not having formal policies. Employees don’t know what they can and cannot do, and different managers may have different rules of their own. They may work from home on Wednesday and come in Thursday to find it’s no longer allowed.

By codifying the terms of remote work, you’re actually empowering people to work remotely. They won’t have to worry about potential repercussions, because it’s just company policy.”

So what should be in your policy? Business Insider recently tackled this question with a helpful list of eight items to include, several of which will come as no surprise to those who read our recent post on legal headaches that can arise from remote working. These include advice to spell out the limitations of when workers’ comp applies and an explicit requirement that remote workers have homeowner’s insurance that covers using part of their home as an office. “If additional money is needed to accommodate this, determine who will pay the added expense. For insurance purposes, many small companies also stipulate that client meetings not be held in home offices,” adds Business Insider.

In addition to protecting yourself against legal hassles, other areas to think about include:

Equipment. If you’ll provide remote workers with all equipment they’ll need to work from home, define rules as to how the equipment should be used. For example, can employees load non-work software on their laptops? Can equipment be used by non-employees?

Reimbursable Expenses. Having remote employees can introduce new reimbursable expenses. Eliminate the questions by defining in this policy what is or is not reimbursable.

Termination. This section should include reasons why a remote work agreement can be terminated. Also, if a remote worker leaves your company, outline the protocol for what steps need be done prior to his/her exit. This includes equipment return, data removal, and possibly a home office inspection.

For more details check out the complete list from Business Insider, which also provides links to two remote work policy templates you can download.

What else is important to include in your formal remote work policy?

Photo courtesy Flickr user rdenublia