If you’re working from home, have a virtual team, or are collaborating on projects remotely with someone, you’ll need to negotiate remote work agreements. Working remotely has been on the rise in recent years and continues to grow in popularity. In fact, a study revealed that 55% of U.S. workers now telecommute at least occasionally, and this trend is expected to increase as more employees become work-from-home enthusiasts. Because of this increased demand for remote work, it’s important to know how to negotiate remote work agreements if you want to work remotely in your next job or project. As an employee who regularly works from home or outside the office frequently, you probably know that creating formal agreements related to your remote working practices is essential for protecting yourself legally and practically so that everyone involved knows what is expected of them and what they can expect from you.
Why Should You Create a Remote Working Agreement?
Remote work agreements are useful for two main reasons: to protect yourself legally and to create a helpful guide for how you work together. With a remote work agreement, you can clearly outline your responsibilities and expectations for the remote work relationship so that no one is confused about what their role is and what is expected of them. A remote work agreement helps you be thoughtful, organized, and intentional about how you work remotely. It also addresses any potential challenges you might face in your work, since remote work arrangements tend to be different than those in a typical office setting. Remote work agreements are legally binding contracts, so they can be helpful if you run into any issues working remotely. If there is a dispute, a remote work agreement can be used as evidence showing you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect yourself and your co-worker.
Negotiating Checklist: What to Discuss When Creating a Remote Working Agreement
Before you start writing, it’s important to identify and outline the key points that you and the other person will discuss when creating the remote work agreement. What is the specific purpose of this agreement? How and when will you communicate with each other? Are there certain topics you need to cover? What does the remote work agreement need to include?
- The name of the parties involved (you and the other person) and their roles in the agreement – The date the agreement was created – The date the agreement will expire – Information about the specific project(s) you’re working on together – The location(s) of the work – The hours you’ll be available to work remotely – Confirmation that work will be done under the supervision of a manager/supervisor – Confirmation that work will be done independently – Confirmation that work will be done remotely – Confirmation that work will be done under the guidance of an appropriate ethics policy – A statement that all collaboration will take place over an approved communication channel – A statement that all communication will be kept confidential – A statement that all communication will be appropriate in tone and language – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with all applicable laws – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with the company’s policies – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with the company’s ethics policy – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with the company’s code of conduct – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with the company’s safety policies – A statement that all remote work will be done in accordance with the company’s security policies – A statement that all remote work will not violate the individual’s employment agreement – A statement that no remote work will be done in violation of an applicable collective bargaining agreement – A statement that the individual is not being forced to work remotely – A statement that the individual is working for their own benefit, not for someone else – A statement that the individual has been advised to create an independent consulting agreement in accordance with IRS regulations – A statement that the individual is being compensated fairly for all remote work – How disputes will be resolved
8 Key Elements of a Remote Working Agreement
There are many different components that make up a remote work agreement. Below, we’ve outlined the 8 most essential elements of a remote work agreement.
Compensation – Compensation is the money you earn for your work. When you’re working remotely, you may be able to save on taxes because you’ll likely receive your earnings as non-employee income. However, you’ll need to make sure that you’re still accurately reporting your earnings for compliance purposes.
Computers, IT Equipment, and Facilities – Confirm that you and the other person are both providing the necessary equipment and resources for work to be done effectively. For example, if one person is providing the internet while the other person is providing the computers, you’ll want to make sure that everyone is provided with what they need.
Confidentiality – Confidentiality refers to the privacy of all communication, data, and files related to the work. You’ll want to make sure that you’re protecting information that may be sensitive or private, such as customer information, financial records, private health records, etc.
Ethics – Confirm that all work will be conducted according to an ethics policy that has been established within your organization. It may be beneficial to work with your ethics officer or conduct this discussion with your manager.
Availability – Confirm that you and the other person will not be conducting work during work hours and will be working on your own time. Remote work that occurs during normal work hours can be an indication that you’re being incorrectly misclassified as an independent contractor and not an employee.
Communication – Confirm that all communication will be done in a professional manner and that it will not be offensive in any way. Be sure to discuss communication channels, such as email, text, social media, etc. You may also want to consider adding a term that states all communication will be kept confidential.
Work Instructions – Include a section detailing exactly how the work will be done, including the order of tasks, deadlines, and deliverables. Be specific when possible and write as though you’re instructing someone who has no experience with the project.
Work Schedule – Include a section detailing how often the work will be done and how long it will take. This section can be helpful if you’re providing work for someone else and want to make sure you stay on track with your own schedule.
Scope of the Work – Include a section detailing everything that the work will include. Confirm that you’ll be completing the work with the same skill, effort, and expertise as if you were in the same office.
Exclusions to the Work – Include a section that details anything that is not part of the work. Confirm that you’re not responsible for any additional work that is not included in the remote work agreement.
Payment Schedule – Include a section detailing when you’ll be paid for all remote work that you complete. Confirm that you’ll receive payment in a timely manner and in accordance with payment terms that have been established within your organization.
Work Results – Include a section detailing how work will be evaluated. Confirm that work will be evaluated fairly and that you’ll be given constructive feedback when appropriate.
Remote Work Agreement Conclusion – Include a section summarizing the remote work agreement. Confirm that the remote work agreement is fair for both parties and that it protects you and the other person.
Working remotely can be a great experience, but make sure you have an official remote work agreement in place before you begin. Negotiate well and make sure you cover all the necessary points so that both parties know how to work together as effectively as possible.
With these tips in mind, you can be more prepared for negotiations and walk away with a better agreement for yourself. Remote work isn’t for everyone, but for many people, it’s a great way to work. When you create a remote work agreement, you’re setting the stage for success and helping to ensure that the working relationship is beneficial for everyone.