man holding incandescent bulb

Having a sound Ethics policy that is reviewed annually both internally with senior management, as well as with each employee shows that the company believes in and supports proper ethical behaviour. When in the workplace, this is more easily enforced through supervisory and management behaviour and corrective action for those who cross the line. However, remote employees are completely independent and don’t see behaviours they can mimic. There are a wide range of ethical concerns for the remote employee. Managers may have higher or lower expectations of their remote employees but have not communicated those expectations clearly to their workers. Managers may think that remote employees should produce more since they don’t have to deal with commuting stress or office distraction. Alternately, they may give remote workers a smaller workload since its harder to communicate with them. Both these situations can lead to questions from the employee and lead them to make unethical decisions.

Using personal or company devices to access work information can lead to many issues. Without anyone or anything to hold them accountable, employees working remotely may access sites or download programs that don’t fit your company’s acceptable use policy. In addition, having their office at home makes it easier to use pricey company devices and software for personal use and projects.

Managing business expenses of remote employees can present ethical issues. Remote workers can easily rationalize the need for a box of pens or package of sticky notes just as easily as purchasing a new printer or software that they claim necessary to complete work. However, it’s likely they wont just use these supplies for work and may even use the opportunity to slip something through.

Employers can help reduce the risk of unethical behaviour by doing some of the following things:

  • Ensure you have an: Ethics Policy; Acceptable use policy; expense policy; and other main policies, they have been modified for working remotely and properly communicated to employees.
  • Ensure managers treat all their employees equally, fairly and with open communication to reduce expectations going in different directions.

Use monitoring software to ensure remote employees adhere to acceptable device use policies and protect your information and infrastructure.


RSMac Consulting provides your business with an array of services to help improve your performance. Whether it’s event security management, human resources, or labour relations services; our consulting can be exactly what you need to get on the path to success. For more information, please visit http://rsmac.ca.