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What does a court manager need to know about remote work?

October 27, 2021

by Eric Brewer

In August 2021, the National Center for State Courts released "Things a Court Manager Should Consider Regarding Remote Work," an in-depth report detailing all the important considerations for updating remote work policies. The document was drafted during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, its recommendations are not limited to emergencies.

An important factor when drafting a new remote work policy is the nature of the court in question. Every court is different, so what works for one court, may not work for another. For instance, how much in-person traffic is there on a typical day? Other workplace characteristics, like the amount of independent or computer-based work, affect the feasibility of moving online.

There are organizational difficulties when adopting remote work. First, resource accessibility, such as the need for both computers and the internet access necessary to make them useful is complicated by remote work. Program fees may need to be reimbursed, as well as expenses for cellular data and internet use. Second, data security may be threatened by allowing sensitive materials to leave the office space. Extra precautions, such as antivirus or firewall protection, can be mandated for work-related equipment. It may be helpful for IT staff to inspect technology periodically. Some state and federal laws require certain equipment to be in the workspace, such as a paper shredder.

It is important to consider multiple factors to set up an employee for success when working remotely. Others include:

  • Vision statements and change management;
  • Defining remote work;
  • Scheduling and workflow;
  • Supervision and evaluation; and
  • Natural disasters, public health emergencies and other events.

Remote work policies should be directly catered to individual court systems and their specific needs. There is no universal template that will be appropriate for every workplace. Even the needs of a singular court will change over time, so adaptability is crucial. The pandemic has demonstrated that court systems can be flexible and evolve in response to changing circumstances. This same spirit should continue into the future as remote work becomes a common feature of many courts.

Has your court implemented permanent remote work options as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo and share your experiences!

For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.