13 Must Have HR Policies For Remote Teams

13 Must Have HR Policies For Remote Teams

Why Have Specific HR Policies For Remote Teams?

The rise of remote work has led to a need for clear HR policies that remote workers can follow. While most businesses and organizations have codified HR policies for employees that work on-site, most employers have been behind in drafting HR policies for their remote team members. The pandemic has pushed employers to convert as many on-site jobs to remote positions as possible. This conversion occurred quickly and without much preparation. So most employers have been preoccupied with setting up and running their organizations remotely. Providing employees with hardware, digital tools, and the training to succeed at remote work has been a high priority for employers who did not offer remote work before the pandemic. 

Upon settling into the rhythm of remote work, employers have realized the need for clear HR policies tailored for their remote workers. There are overlaps between HR policies for on-site and remote workers. However, remote workers do need clear guidance on some aspects of workplace rules and norms. For example, while on-site employees usually start and end work at set times, remote employees tend to have some flexibility with shift start and end times. Yet employers will expect both on-site and remote employees to follow the same procedure in requesting personal time off. Some must have HR policies for remote teams will be discussed below:

1) Revise Employee Handbook

Revise your employee handbook to specify the behaviors that you expect from your remote team members. You might have briefed them on changes and expectations verbally during audio or video meetings. However, to prevent lawsuits, it is important to codify what you need from your remote workers. Document all communication where you inform and educate remote workers about the revised employee handbook.

Follow these rules when revising the employee handbook:

  • Create a specific section in the employee handbook for remote workers.
  • Highlight the differences between policies for on-site and remote workers.
  • Discuss the revised handbook with remote workers
  • Email the revised handbook with a form asking remote employees for their signatures acknowledging that they have received and understand the contents of the revised handbook.

2) Work Rules & Etiquette

Employees need to understand that just because they are working remotely, does not mean that some of the same on-site work rules do not apply. For example, employees still need to communicate with others with respect. They still need to be productive from home. While working, employees are still representing their employers, and their employers do have some say about their work environment and work habits. Some HR policies to communicate to remote employees are listed below:

  • Dress decently during work meetings, whether they are audio-only or video meetings.
  • Wear company-issued uniforms or professional attire at meetings with clients. This rule should also extend to any company-related events where an employee is representing the company. 
  • No intoxication during work. If your employer does not allow you to drink or smoke while working on-site, you cannot drink or smoke while working remotely. Remote workers are required to be sober while working.
  • A remote worker cannot log in and out of company programs when it is mandatory for them to remain logged in to the company program for the duration of their shift. For example, customer service agents need to be logged in to work for the duration of their shifts except for their meal/rest breaks.
  • Treat and communicate with everyone with respect and professionalism. 

What Does the Workplace Look Like in the Post-COVID Era? Watch our on-demand  webinar to find out from HR experts >>

3) Scheduling, Shift Start-End Times

Even though remote work generally comes with a degree of flexibility, employers need to clarify the limits of flexibility to maintain standards and ensure productivity. Clarity regarding scheduling and shift start/end times can also help to prevent potential labor law violations and lawsuits. Details to highlight are:

  • Give workers adequate notice of their weekly schedules.
  • Inform workers about their daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals and targets. Document goals and targets.
  • For deadline-driven work, specify deadlines and when work is due.
  • For shift-oriented work, specify shift start and end times. 
  • Specify the timing and length of rest and meal breaks for shift work.
  • For shift work and work meetings, specify what constitutes tardiness and absenteeism. Inform employees about what constitutes excessive or long breaks during their work shifts. 
  • Shift workers must notify their shift supervisors or coworkers whenever they have to log off company programs to take their breaks. This is especially important for workers who deal with or interact with customers during work.
  • Wage-earners must be paid for overtime work when their employers require them to work overtime. 
  • Give guidelines about the time it should take for employees to complete their tasks. This is especially important for wage earners who perform deadline-oriented work. 
  • Have formal check-ins with employees about their workloads and deadlines. This will help with productivity, work-life balance, and employee engagement issues.

4) Communication Methods & Response Times

Reaching others and getting timely responses from remote team members can be quite a challenge. Time zone differences, conflicting work schedules, personal appointments, and family responsibilities are causes of communication issues in the remote work environment. Using the wrong method to reach out to others can cause costly delays. For example, emailing questions that you can get answers for with quick phone calls can cause delays in solving customer-related problems. Or even worse, such delays can cause a company to lose customers. Crucial communications to keep in mind are:

  • Inform employees about all their communication options at work.
  • Train employees in the use of all communication tools at their disposal. 
  • Document employee training in the use of all communication tools available to them.
  • Provide guidelines about the best communication tools to use under different circumstances. 
  • Be mindful of the availability and schedules of other team members. 

5) Security Measures

Since the pandemic, many more people have been logging into their company's programs or enterprise systems from home to work than usual. This situation has set a fertile ground for cybercriminals to hack into systems or steal personal information to commit even more crimes. Employees need strict guidelines for minimizing any security mishaps. Some security measures employees can take are:

  • Keep all work devices or any personal devices that employees use for work physically safe. Always keep your devices in your sight. Store them away safely and securely when not in use. Do not let anyone use work-issued devices for personal use.
  • Scan for viruses at every work session. Keep antivirus programs updated.
  • To use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if possible. Or to use a secure internet connection. Employers should pay for secure connections if they want to mandate the use of secure connections.
  • Not to click on any unfamiliar links or emails while logged into work programs or personal or work-related devices.
  • Not to share confidential company or client information with anyone.
  • Not to leave physical documents containing confidential company or client information lying around in view of others.
  • Not to share passwords with family members or anyone else.

6) Company Equipment 

Company-issued laptops, headphones, printers, phones, and chairs are not personal property. Just because the employee uses these devices and equipment from home does not mean that the employee can sell, exchange or give these things away. Employees will have to return these items to the employer upon quitting their jobs or being let go from their jobs. Things to note about company-owned equipment and devices:

  • Do not use company-issued equipment or devices for personal use.
  • Do not let others use company-issued equipment or devices for their personal use.
  • Keep company-issued items clean and safe from damage or exposure.
  • Request support for devices that do not work. Request repair or replacement for equipment that is unusable. For example, a laptop that does not work needs to be examined by IT professionals. A broken ergonomic chair issued by work needs to be repaired or replaced.

7) Home Office Cost Coverage

Many remote employees have had to set up home offices to be able to work productively from home. In some cases, employers provided devices and equipment for their employees to work from home comfortably and productively. However, in most cases, employees have had to foot bills for office supplies and equipment. Employees should be allowed to:

  • Submit requests for reimbursement for necessary but costly out-of-pocket costs to be able to work from home remotely.
  • Have a set allowance or a monthly/annual budget for office supplies or equipment.
  • Must pay for extras out of pocket. For example, if an employee is entitled to an ergonomic chair that costs $300, but the employee wants a $1000 chair, then the employee has to pay the $700 difference from their pocket.
  • Employees must submit invoices, receipts, and proof of payment for reimbursement purposes.

8) Time Off Requests

Employees will need time off vacation or other personal reasons. Employees must formally request time off for days and times that they usually work or are expected to work. Employees can do the following:

  • Submit a formal request for time-off. Document all time-off requests.
  • Give supervisors or managers enough time to process time-off requests.
  • Disciplinary action will result from being absent on a day for which a time-off request has already been denied.

9) Safe Work Practices

Employers must educate and demonstrate healthy work habits to employees. For example, provide written material and videos on stretching, ergonomics, and safe work practices to all remote workers. Safe work practices go a long way in preventing costly employee injuries.

10) Fair Work Practices

Employers, managers, and supervisors must treat all remote team members fairly and equally. Reward and discipline employees according to a universal standard. The same rules should apply to all employees with consistency. Document all rules and standards.

Remote team members must also share vital information with the appropriate team members. For example, an employee responsible for sharing leads with sales employees must not hide this information from some sales employees yet provide this information to sales employees with whom they are friends. 

11) Address Changes

Labor laws vary from state to state. Therefore, if remote workers relocate to different states, they must inform their employers formally in writing. Employers have to stay compliant with the local labor laws of the state that their remote workers work in. Every time an employee relocates to another state, an employer has to check to see if they are complying with the labor laws of the employee’s new home state.

12) Harassment & Reporting Policy

Employees might experience harassment in the form of incessant or unwanted communication from other remote team members. They might be harassed or stalked via phone calls, texts messages, emails, etc. Employees might receive or be subjected to inappropriate communication. In all such instances, employees must report the harassment as quickly as possible to a supervisor they feel comfortable with or an HR employee. Remote workers must receive training on the topic of workplace harassment so that they know when and how to report instances of workplace harassment,

13) Disciplinary Action

Employers must inform employees about infractions that will lead to employee discipline up to and including termination. A sequence of infractions within a specific time frame can layer onto each other to trigger progressive discipline. For example, two occurrences of tardiness within a month might result in a conversation with the supervisor. Three incidents of tardiness in a row might result in a formal warning. Three warnings in a row could lead to termination of employment. Of course, document all infractions.

Alternatively, some infractions result in instant dismissal from work. For example, threatening violence, stealing company property, or selling confidential company information usually result in termination without warning.

Ensure that employees understand the acts and behaviors that constitute infractions. Inform employees about the consequences of each type of infraction. Inform them about how many formal warnings they have to exhaust within a specified time to trigger dismissal from work. 


Remote teams have their own set of needs when it comes to dealing with HR-related issues. Remote and on-site teams have similar rules and guidelines to follow when they work for the same company. However, both teams also have some distinct rules and guidelines to follow. Therefore, businesses and organizations now offering remote work options to their employees have to draft new HR policies for their remote teams. These rules encompass topics from dress-code, to disciplinary action to cybersecurity and many other issues. 

You can get assistance with workforce solutions that have to do with drafting HR policies, keeping track of employee-related data, and managing your remote team. Click here if you would like to learn more about workforce solutions for your company.

New call-to-action

Tags: HR

Leave a Comment