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The first question most people ask when they find out that you’re starting a business is, “so what exactly IS a remote employee agreement?” Glad you asked.

The acronym RIA actually stands for “remote employee agreement” and it’s basically a contract between you and your employees stating the terms and conditions of your employment. If you’re running a professional services firm or a marketing agency and you want to retain one or more employees away from your firm or agency, then this agreement is for you.

What’s great about this agreement is that it doesn’t require any legal expertise to write. In fact, you might not even need a lawyer to draft the contract. Most importantly, it provides you with the flexibility of being able to negotiate pay and terms with your employees, should you and they agree to a new contract before the one scheduled to expire. It also encourages your employees to think outside of the office by offering them an opportunity to work remotely.

Step one: Set the stage

Whether you are an employer or an employee, setting the stage for a productive working relationship is extremely important. Begin by explaining to your employees—in writing, of course—why you’re instituting a remote employee program. You might want to explain that you are expanding your business geographically and want to take advantage of the cost savings that remote work brings with it. Alternatively, you could be trying to save money for a rainy day or need a way to retain top talent. Setting the stage also means laying out the ground rules for collaboration, from how you want the employees to interact to how you want them to keep personal information confidential. Finally, you might want to include an itemized list of the tools and resources that you will make available to your employees (such as a laptop, an office chair, etc.). This is especially important if you’re instituting a remote program for the first time and don’t want to surprise your employees with a locked pantry and a missing chair.

Step two: Identify the needs of your employees

In order to ensure that they’re fully prepared to work remotely, you’ll need to identify the specific needs of your employees. Do they need a space of their own? What type of equipment do they need to get the job done (laptop, keyboard, mouse, touch screen, etc.)? How much traffic can they handle (i.e., are they a social media superstar or an average user)? Do they need flexibility with the hours that they work? Many small business owners underestimate how much their employees value flexibility. Having the ability to choose their own hours is a major draw for some people and can make the difference between an excellent employee and a happy one. On the other hand, if your employees feel that they have to rush in early and stay late just to make sure that the work gets done, you might end up losing a good employee. Finding out the answers to these questions will help you to create specific employee roadmaps that lead to the ultimate goal of a remote employee program.

Step three: Identify the benefits for your employees

Once you’ve set the stage and identified the needs of your employees, it’s time to highlight the benefits for them. These are the things that they will gain from working remotely that will make their life better. For example, some benefits might include: higher pay, the ability to choose their own hours, the opportunity to build a reputation, and the chance to work with top tier clients.

Step four: Identify the risks for your employees

Finally, you’ll want to identify the risks for your employees. These are the things that they are potentially vulnerable to while working remotely. For example, if you’re an employer and you’re instituting a remote employee program, the risks you need to be aware of include: the risk of getting hit by a car, the risk of an accident or injury at work, losing their personal belongings, and being away from their families for long periods of time. The risk of getting hit by a car is especially high if you’re driving to and from work. When you think about it, most accidents happen at work, so it makes sense that you want to be extra careful while driving there. The risk of getting injured is also pretty high if you’re working at a construction site or if you’re handling heavy machinery. The risk of losing personal belongings is also very high if you’re working remotely for an employer who doesn’t provide you with adequate security (such as lockers). Finally, being away from their families for long periods of time is also risky for your employees if they haven’t made adequate plans for care-giving in case they’re unable to get their work done. If you want to create a happy and productive working environment for your employees, then you need to be careful not to overload them with too much work and require them to spend too much time away from their families. This will help you to create a positive outlook for both you and your employees during this time of change.

Hopefully, this overview of how to write a remote employee agreement has served its purpose well and helped you to implement a successful remote employee program. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us via email and we’ll be happy to help. If this was valuable information, then consider subscribing to our blog so that you can read our articles regularly.