Telecommuting Policies Require Effective Management
Telecommuting is a type of flexible work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternate workplace, such as from home or another remote location, during all or part of the workweek. Increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and the flexibility to recruit and retain valuable employees are just some of the potential benefits of allowing employees to telecommute.
If you decide that telecommuting is a good fit for your company, keep the following do's and don'ts in mind for effective management:
- DO assess employees' telecommuting capabilities. Certain positions--and employees--are better suited for telecommuting than others. Consider whether an employee's duties are sufficiently 'portable,' and whether the employee has demonstrated the ability to work independently and productively, before approving any telework arrangement.
- DO communicate expectations. Managers and employees should be on the same page when it comes to expectations for telecommuting, including scheduling and hours of availability, location(s) where telework will be performed, performance standards, and who is responsible for providing and maintaining any necessary equipment.
- DON'T discriminate. Be sure that your telecommuting policy and practices do not have the effect of discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, or any other protected class. (Keep in mind that allowing an employee with a disability to work from home may be required as a form of reasonable accommodation in some instances.) Employees who work remotely should receive the same opportunities for advancement and professional development as their in-office counterparts.
- DO stay connected. Keep the lines of communication open by checking in regularly with remote employees, and arrange conference calls and in-person meetings to keep them in the loop. Remember to provide feedback on performance and apply the same standards to both telecommuting and non-telecommuting employees.
- DON'T overlook security issues. Ensure that employees working offsite are able to maintain the security of files, correspondence, equipment, and other materials as necessary. Employees should also follow any security protocols for remote connectivity. Depending on the sensitivity of the information being handled, a home office may need to include security measures such as locked file cabinets, similar to what may be used at the official worksite.
It's a good idea to include your telework policy in your employee handbook, so all employees who are or may become eligible for telecommuting are aware of the guidelines. Consult an employment law attorney for help with creating your policy to ensure that your company's telecommuting practices are in compliance with the law and do not unlawfully discriminate against certain employees.