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Law In The Time Of Coronavirus: Remote Work Policies

The general increase in remote work in recent years has, by necessity, been accelerated by the spread of Coronavirus in the U.S. and the Seattle area in particular. In recent days, a significant number of employees in Seattle and across the country have been instructed to work from home for the foreseeable future. Businesses, and their employees, are now grappling with the potential new normal of widespread remote work.

Now, more than ever, it will be important for businesses with remote workers to have remote work policies in place. These policies serve a number of important ends.

Related: Coronavirus Resources For Washington Businesses


Remote work policies set forth the employer’s expectations for its remote workers concerning day-to-day things, which are often taken for granted in a formal work setting, like the following:

  • Time tracking
  • Hours worked
  • Means of communication during work hours
  • How and how often to communicate with the employee’s team and leadership
  • How to use and take care of company property (e.g., laptop, office supplies, etc.) and confidential information
  • Ensuring secure remote access procedures, like VPNs, are used
  • Determining which work expenses the employer will handle and which will be the employee’s responsibility

At a more basic level, having a formal, written remote work policy in place helps both the employer and its employees share a common understanding of how their relationship will function, something that becomes especially important for long-term remote work situations, whether because of geographic distance, pandemic, or other situations.

These policies don’t necessarily have to be extensive. But they should be in place moving forward, at least in some form, for businesses with employees who will be working remotely.

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