Navigating remote work compliance

Remote working has become the norm for many businesses and employees in recent years. However, it also brings new challenges and risks regarding compliance, policy, data law, tech requirements, and cybersecurity.

These challenges not only have legal and ethical implications but also affect the operational aspects of remote work, demanding careful planning, management, and monitoring. To overcome these hurdles, you need to follow the best practices and regulations to ensure operations remain compliant, consistent, secure, and efficient.

The result? All the benefits of remote work with minimal liabilities.

Unpacking remote work compliance

Remote work compliance isn’t just a matter of signing a contract and logging in from anywhere. It’s a complex web of legal and regulatory elements influencing both employers’ and employees’ circumstances.

But these elements depend on many factors, like where the work is done, the type of work, and the people doing the work. Additionally, you need to consider tax implications, data security, workers’ rights, and employer obligations, among other things.


Compliance refers to adhering to the laws, rules, standards, and policies that apply to your business and industry. It’s essential for avoiding legal consequences and loss of trust from your customers and employees.

Two main categories of compliance include internal and external:

  • Internal: A set of policies and procedures you establish and enforce in your business to ensure your employees, contractors, and partners act according to your values, goals, and expectations. In addition, it involves training, monitoring, auditing, and reporting mechanisms that confirm adherence and determine whether issues are addressed promptly and effectively.

  • External: These are the laws and regulations your business must comply with based on your location, industry, and activities. External compliance can be challenging for remote work, as you may have employees and customers in different countries and regions, each with its own legal and regulatory frameworks.


Policies are closely related to compliance, comprising the rules and guidelines governing your remote work arrangements and practices. These policies help you to comply with relevant laws and regulations and establish and maintain a consistent and productive remote work culture.

Policies cover various aspects of remote work, including:

  • Eligibility: Who can work remotely, and under what conditions and criteria?

  • Availability: When and how should remote workers be reachable and responsive? And what are the expected working hours and time zones?

  • Communication: What are the preferred modes and channels of communication? And what are the communication etiquette and norms?

  • Collaboration: How should they collaborate with their teams, managers, and other stakeholders? And what are the collaboration tools and platforms?

  • Performance: How should they set, track, and report their goals, tasks, and results? And how will they be evaluated and rewarded?

  • Equipment: What are the equipment and technology requirements and standards for remote work? And who is responsible for providing, maintaining, and securing them?

  • Expenses: What are the expense and reimbursement policies and procedures? And what are the eligible and ineligible costs?

  • Health and wellbeing: How should they manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing? And what are the available support and resources?

Data law

Data law refers to the legal and regulatory frameworks governing personal and sensitive data collection, processing, storage, transfer, and use. Personal data includes any information that can identify or relate to a person. Sensitive data, on the other hand, includes more confidential and private information.

Data law is a key aspect of remote work compliance, as it involves handling and sharing large amounts of personal and sensitive data both internally and externally.

Laws that apply to remote work include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA), and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in South Africa, among others.

Technical requirements

These are the technical specifications and standards your equipment and systems must meet to ensure operational functionality and security. They can vary depending on the nature and scope of your business activities, but generally include:

  • Hardware: Computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, monitors, keyboards, webcams, microphones, printers, scanners, etc.

  • Software: Operating systems, browsers, office suites, email, communication tools, collaboration platforms, project management tools, cloud services, security software, etc.

  • Network: Internet, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, VPN, firewalls, router, modem, etc.


Cybersecurity is critical to remote work compliance, as remote work exposes your business and employees to various cyber threats and risks. The authorised cybersecurity infrastructure protects your business from unauthorized access by malicious actors.

The best way to ensure cybersecurity in remote work is to:                                                                                

  • Educate and train your employees and contractors on best practices and behaviours, like using strong and unique passwords, multi-factor authentication, avoiding suspicious links, etc.

  • Implement and maintain robust cybersecurity measures and controls.

  • Establish and follow cybersecurity policies and procedures.

  • Monitor and audit your remote work equipment, systems, data, and information, and detect and respond to any incidents or breaches quickly and effectively.

  • Partner with experts, especially for complex or sophisticated cyber threats or attacks.

Protecting yourself, your business, and your employees

Remote work continues to grow in popularity, transforming the modern workplace. But as we move forward, the commitment to compliance, strategic policies, and a robust cybersecurity framework will remain the cornerstone of a thriving remote work ecosystem, maintaining the expectations and needs of your employees, customers, and partners.

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