Hybrid working: building a compliance culture

The Covid 19 pandemic has revolutionized the way we work by forcing companies to be nimble and prove they could continue to do business when they were not in the office. With many firms still working remotely as the pandemic moves further into our rear view, determining what good supervision looks like remains an important challenge to master.

There are more employees working from home than ever before. While remote work has many benefits such as more flexibility, less commuting time and improved work/life balance, it has also introduced new challenges into the workplace. One of the most important of these is how companies can ensure employees are properly supervised when working from remote locations.

We have recently written about the importance of having a strong compliance culture which is a helpful first step, but you shouldn’t stop there. It is important to make sure you are compensating for things that may naturally be caught when you are all in an office together, but are more difficult to detect when you are not face to face. You will need to create new standards to help make sure you are in touch with your employees and they remain productive and engaged. Without proper supervision, remote workers may also feel isolated and unsupported which could lead to a lack of motivation and reduced performance.

There are several proactive ways you can avoid these potential pitfalls and take advantage of this new era in the workplace:

1) Clear expectations: Organizations should be clear about what’s expected of remote employees in terms of their work responsibilities, communication protocols and deadlines, to name but a few examples. When these expectations aren’t clear, it can lead to miscommunication and frustration for everyone involved.

2) Defined policies and procedures: It’s vital that there are documented policies on how employees should be managing the logistics of their day-to-day when not in the office. Some key areas that should be explored are:

  • managing physical documents
  • using personal communication devices
  • printing
  • mailing
  • home office inspections.

3) Employee attestations: After defining the policies, you should regularly (e.g., quarterly) have employees sign off and confirm that they are following any rules put in place. Most violations come from unintentional oversights rather than intentional malice, so keeping the rules front and center will help prevent these mistakes.

4) Regular check-ins: Managers should talk to each of their remote employees on a frequent and regular basis to address any concerns or challenges. They should provide regular feedback and recognition of what employees are doing well, and what can be improved. This will set the tone for how they should behave.

Although some of these points might not seem that new, we need to analyze them with a slightly different lens in our current environment. It’s possible to run a successful business with remote employees, but having the controls in place will go a long way to making that happen. By providing your workforce with frequent communication, clear expectations, and regular feedback and recognition, you can help to keep employees engaged and productive, contributing to the overall success of the company.