Prepare for the Remote Worker
As the number of companies offering workplace flexibility and remote work arrangements continues to grow, the likelihood that your firm will get the request to work outside the office (or already has) is quite high. Ensuring that you’re prepared for these requests with the appropriate technology, expectations, criteria and policies will not only become more important in the coming years but also expected by some prospective employees.
It’s Not Just About Technology
Technology has advanced to the point that the viability of offering remote work arrangements is no longer in question. However, there is a lot more to it than just the technology. Management and people issues tend to be the bigger challenges for the worker and the firm. Trust is the most important leadership factor in your firm and if it is not developed up front then you are setting everyone up for failure.
The reality is that we have to be better managers and communicators in a virtual work environment. The crutch of visually seeing that people are in the office and assuming they are being productive is taken away. While we must depend on remote employees to be self-sufficient, driven and focused, it is still our responsibility to provide guidance and hold them accountable. Instilling a culture where everyone in the firm is committed to the work, their peers, clients and the firm is of utmost important to success.
Setting Expectations & Policies
Clearly outlining expectations is an important first step. At a minimum you should document:
- Where? – Setting expectations of what is required of the remote workspace (home office vs. kitchen table, home vs. coffee shop, etc.)
- When? – Clear hours when the remote worker is expected to be available to team members and clients alike is another important piece of the puzzle.
- How? – List out the technology tools and office equipment the remote worker is expected to have as well as expectations about what the firm will pay for and what will be the responsibility of the employee.
- What? – The work they are expected to complete and the goals they must achieve should also be agreed upon by both parties.
- Who? – Not everyone is cut out to be a remote worker nor does everyone have a role within the firm that lends itself to them working outside the office. You must develop criteria to gain the right to work remotely and a system to hold people accountable. Read more on CPA Practice Advisor.