Is your organization’s policy management framework optimized for hybrid operations? In response to the needs and requirements of employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are offering their employees a hybrid working option or simply working completely remotely from home. In other words, many workers are going into the workplace part time and many others never even leave their homes. These offerings are done in the hopes that business will carry on as usual.
Role of policy design in managing compliance in remote work model
However, organizations need to think through all factors that could arise from this. They must develop, communicate and implement domestic policies clearly in order to address any potential emerging risks. Organizations need a central portal for all organizational policies that may be related to employee roles within the organization. Many things must be considered when dealing with the changing work environment. Hybrid working presents challenges that have previously been ignored. But now, they must be addressed and worked through if modern organizations wish to succeed.
Many organizations do not have departments that comprehend and clearly explain the implications of hybrid and remote working. Because of that, it is mandatory that all organizations are prepared to understand what lies ahead. Here are the risks your organization should consider when implementing remote work policies:
● Culture. How can your organization develop and maintain a strong company culture in a remote work environment? This will require additional attention to detail from your organization. Employee engagement and interaction is key to achieving this. Organizations must make sure that there is strong communication and that the workers stay in touch with the policies and the ethos of the organization. While zoom meetings have become a standardized medium of communication for organizations post COVID-19, companies should be searching for methods that go beyond the usual zoom meetings.
● State Taxes. It is important to know how to handle the complexities that could emerge when workers are based in a different state than the organization. Is the worker taxed based on the state of the organization’s location or the location of where the worker lives? And what happens if the worker sometimes goes into work but lives in a different state? The worker definitely does not want to be double taxed and that is why the organization must be prepared to face and answer these questions. With this, state unemployment laws are also to be considered when dealing with out of state remote policies.
● Compliance Obligations. With remote workers located in states other than where the organization was formed, it is expected that the organization will have an agent who has an address that is in the other state. This agent can receive specific legal documents and prepare annual reports to satisfy the limited liability requirements. This is one of the things that must be done to qualify an organization in a foreign state and it is best to be discussed with an expert as it can be tricky.
● Remote Permits. Certain counties require permits for remote workers. These can be strict and difficult to navigate through. If organizations wish to avoid audits or threatening government letters, they must be familiar with the local licensing laws and arrange its remote policies in a way that coincides with the laws.
● Independent Contractor or Remote Worker? For legal documents, it is crucial that organizations figure this out for legal documents. What must be considered is the employee’s contributions and relationship to the organizations. A misclassification of a worker could have negative effects for a business and workers should be properly titled when they are working remote or hybrid; looking to find new employees.
● Multinational Business Operations. Organizations might even have workers that are located in other countries. This is not a bad thing. It can even be thought of as an advantage to expand the pool of possible workers and choose from the best. However, questions will emerge about payroll, taxes and other legal factors regarding certain policies that go beyond the foreign state legalities. This is something that organizations must also be prepared to work through.
● Conduct. As your organization transitions to online meetings and conference calls due to COVID-19, many organizations have seen a large increase in behavioral issues. People are working from home, but since they’re not at headquarters, they can feel too comfortable and as if the rules now are far from their current work situation. Be sure to remind the workers that the policies are still active. Organizations must adapt to the environment that remote and hybrid working has established and navigate through the differences in order to connect with the employees.
● IT security. Your organization should prioritize security for its remote office environment. Security threats are becoming more of an issue as more workers are working from home. If a certain device in an employee’s home office is equipped with a Trojan or a backdoor, it can affect the entire remote office environment in an undesirable way. Particular consideration should be given to home office security and remote office devices and connections. These potential risks need to be considered when developing your organization’s remote work policies. These risks need to be addressed within a framework of comprehensive policy management that applies not only to your organization, but to the extended business as a whole. This will provide the most secure solution to any imposing cyber threats.
As the world continues to change, organizations must be prepared to tackle any challenges that come their way. With COVID-19, more employees are working from home than ever before. Organizations are unlikely to see a full return to the workplace anytime soon as more discourse and coverage about BA.5 is occurring. But this does not mean organizations and businesses have to give out. It may be difficult to work through all the details and legal requirements, but with strong leadership, innovative techniques, and an ambitious team, these challenges will not harm the organization. As long as the policy’s framework has been structured in a way that accommodates these drastic changes, the organization will be able to adapt and navigate through these disruptions and hybrid working will not be an issue.