Does Your Remote Team Need a Child-Care Policy?
At Fire Engine RED, we’re a 100 percent virtual company, meaning ALL of our team members work from home. Many of those team members have children, so we have a child-care policy in place that states simply: “You’re expected to make appropriate child-care arrangements during your work hours.”
That’s it, you might ask? One sentence? Yes, and here’s why: all remote teams are based on trust, and we trust our workers to do their jobs well without close supervision. So, the reason we leave so much latitude in our child-care policy is this: we believe our team members can be trusted to make the right judgement call when it comes to having children around.
Reasons for Child-Care Policy
There are two reasons we created this policy in the first place. First, from a company standpoint, we want our team members to be able to focus on their work. Second, we want to help ensure children remain safe while their parent is working.
The policy applies to times when the team member is the only adult at home while one or more children are also home. Do the kids have the supervision required to keep them safe, and the team member uninterrupted?
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. We asked ourselves, should there be an age cutoff? Let’s say team member Hannah has an eight year-old and a 10-year-old. The 10-year-old helps to make sure the eight year-old doesn’t disturb Hannah during work hours. So does Hannah need child care? What about team member Frank, whose children are 12 and 14?
We came to the conclusion that our policy should be “child-focused” and not “age-focused.” Again, because we hire people with good judgement, we’re okay with them making the call…whether the kids are home from school, or home for the whole summer. This works because we trust our team members to know at what age their kids are “independent” enough.
By the way, a few of our clients work at home as well. So, they “get” that we have the kind of company culture where a kid can say “hi” to their mom or dad—even when they’re on a conference call. (We like it even better when they say “hi” to the other people on the call!)
Okay, so what if a team member’s kid gets sick and has to stay home from school? It’s no problem; our company offers unlimited sick time (not a typo!), which can also be used for caring for a sick kid.
So, our advice to other remote teams is this—put a child-care policy in place, but don’t feel like you have to get into too many specifics (age of the kids, duration of unsupervised time, and so forth). Needing to set these conditions indicates your team may not be suited to remote work.
Remember that you hired the people on your remote team for their ability to make good decisions independently of close supervision. Trust them!
Chuck Vadun is communications director for Fire Engine RED, a 100 percent virtual company serving the education market. He has two daughters, ages 12 and 8, who are perfect little angels. Except when they’re not.
By Chuck Vadun | August 7, 2015 | Categories: Remote Management