How To Ensure Compliance In A Remote Work Setting
When it comes to corporate training topics, compliance is one of the most popular ones.
But besides that, corporate compliance training is one of the most complicated and, in many cases, less interesting topics for employees and L&D managers alike. Yet it’s also something you absolutely need to check off your list if you don’t want your company to face legal and financial ramifications.
You know this. However, in the post-pandemic world of remote and hybrid work, training on compliance does not look the same anymore.
New regulations and changes in what constitutes a “safe working space” are making it necessary to revise existing training programs, adjust the content, and make sure everyone remains compliant—along with the entire organization.
How Remote Work Reshapes Compliance Training
According to a recent McKinsey survey, 58% of Americans have the option to work from home at least one day a week—while 35% are able to work from home five days a week. This is a big shift, especially because it’s not industry-specific: it affects even jobs traditionally labeled “blue-collar,” for which on-site labor used to be a standard expectation.
The shift to remote work means that companies might need to find new ways to train their teams on compliance. And while focusing on eLearning is a tried and true process (i.e., relying on online courses and replacing in-person seminars with Zoom presentations), successful training is not only defined by the delivery methods.
Compliance Training Topics Need To Change As Well
With the rise of remote work, companies need to revisit their training content and make sure it’s still relevant and up to date. Even if regulations themselves haven’t changed, perhaps the way organizations must apply said regulations has. Especially when it comes to matters of safety and security, both physical and online.
Maintaining a workspace that’s compliant and also safe for everyone while your employees are spread out in different locations (and often even different continents) is not easy. But thankfully, it can become easier for all with the right training.
5 Compliance Training Topics To Include In Your Programs
Drafting compliance training courses now definitely feels different from two years ago. Some things are not as important as before, while others take now a front-row seat.
Employees tend to think that they have better digital hygiene habits than they actually do. And that includes everything from choosing strong passwords to keeping data safe. And while cybersecurity training has always been a pain point for companies, ensuring that everyone follows safety protocols becomes even harder with people working from home.
The numbers are not great: the transition to remote work came with an increase in cyberattacks for 90% of companies.
That’s why it’s very important that your corporate compliance training includes cybersecurity training. From handling cyber threats to understanding mandates like the GDPR requirements in the EU, educating your employees about how to properly handle data and keep their systems secure is essential.
Particularly when working from home, your employees’ computers and mobile devices can be more prone to viruses and malware. Or even to security breaches, because passwords were not stored properly and non-employees had access to them. Offering training in cybersecurity essentials will go a long way towards ensuring compliance and mitigating risk.
2. Company Ethics And Sexual Harassment
Company ethics is always an important topic to teach employees, but even more so when everyone works from home. You need to ensure your staff follows your Code of Conduct in every interaction with colleagues and clients.
When teams are distributed, it’s harder to control things like “accepting gifts higher than a certain value” (which can be considered bribery according to the FCPA guidelines in the US). So, compliance training courses in anti-bribery practices, whistleblowing, conflicts of interest, and other compliance essentials can at least ensure your employees will know better than to engage in potentially shady behavior.
Another important aspect of company ethics is sexual harassment. While currently only 17 of the 50 US states have a legal mandate in place that requires employers to provide their employees with sexual harassment training, it’s important to invest in it. You may think that the subject becomes moot now that employees do not physically cohabit in the same space, but that is far from the truth.
Workplace sexual harassment is not cubicle-specific. The problem of sexual harassment at work hasn’t magically vanished when people had to minimize their face-to-face contact. The way employees communicate with one another, both in virtual and written contexts, needs to be respectful and safe for all. And without training, it won’t be.
A survey by TalentLMS and The Purple Campaign showed that 29% of employees have experienced unwelcome behavior over video calls, text messages, email, or other online platforms.
3. Work-From-Home Policies
The thing about remote work is that it doesn’t necessarily specify where the work is taking place from. Your employees could be working from home, from their corner coffee shop, or from a tropical beach.
And while that is arguably a good thing for them (and for the quality of work they produce), you need to make sure you’re being compliant with all local legislation. Before, that only meant “the legislation of the US state your office is located in,” but now you need to cover more ground.
For example, different states have different sick leave policies that you need to adhere to if you have employees located there, as well as different policies for expenditures incurred while at work.
Monitoring employees is also a complicated issue that should be addressed during compliance training. Some US states require you to inform employees before you do so. To be on the safe side, you should probably inform everyone of your company policies—and make it a part of your compliance training.
4. Work-From-Home Safety
With the switch to remote work, some parts of your existing safety training might need to be removed. For example, there’s no need to hone down on workplace safety if everyone’s working remotely. However, that doesn’t mean that safety protocols shouldn’t still be followed. Your employees need to be kept safe—and so do your clients.
Take, for instance, your customer support specialists. Before, they would take calls within a secure place, where everyone near them had the same training and the same approach to data safety. Now, however, your specialists are working from a completely new environment, and the people who are around them shouldn’t be made privy to clients’ sensitive data. Offering training on work-from-home safety guidelines will help your employees understand how pre-existing regulations are being translated (if they are) for remote work.
And when it comes to your employees’ physical safety, things can become a bit murky in remote work conditions. Surveys show that more than two out of five employees have new or increased pain in their neck, back, and/or shoulders, likely due to poor ergonomics. But how can you control that the equipment and furniture they use are optimal in order to prevent accidents and ergonomic issues?
Providing a stipend for office equipment is one solution. But with limited guidance from OSHA, it’s up to your company to ensure your employees understand best practices. Including work-from-home safety training in your compliance curriculum can help with that.
5. Legislation For Remote Workers (For Team Leaders And HR Professionals)
But it’s not just your employees who need to understand work-from-home policies and safety. Your HR team and team managers do, too.
For example, while there are many similarities between remote and on-site work when it comes to the FLSA, not everything is the same.
According to the Department of Labor (DOL), although you need to cover overtime, you don’t need to pay for unexpected, unscheduled hours you don’t know about. In practical terms, this means that people shouldn’t be working overtime without their supervisor’s knowledge and permission—because that could lead to unpleasant situations where there is a discrepancy between what employees believe they’re owed in terms of overtime and what you are legally obliged to pay.
Staying compliant with regulations means not just tracking your employees’ whereabouts and working hours. But also creating a culture of trust. Thankfully, there are many different ways and tools that can help build straightforward processes, but ultimately, HR and team leaders need to be aware of their obligations towards remote staff. Training helps build that awareness.
All Corporate Training Matters…
…But compliance training matters more. Because when it’s done poorly (or not at all), it could leave your company exposed to fines for non-compliance, cyberattacks, and a poor reputation among employees and customers alike.
So, as you transition to more flexible work models, make sure you update both your delivery practices and your compliance training content itself so that it includes all necessary topics.