Telecommuting is one of many flexible work arrangements that businesses may establish for their staff, to enable them to achieve a more successful balance between work responsibilities and family life (others include flexible schedules, part-time and partial-year appointments, job sharing, alternate work days, and alternate work weeks.)
Businesses looking to offer telecommuting to their employees should carefully review both advantages and disadvantages before setting up new telecommuting agreements, to explore the wide variety of arrangements possible, and to address potential problem areas.
Pilot programs may be helpful in determining what type of arrangement will be most effective. Also, businesses that currently have telecommuting agreements are encouraged to review the policy and guidelines annually, to ensure consistency of application and equitable treatment throughout the company.
Remember, however, that what will work well for one position or person might not work for another. Success depends on both the nature of the work and the nature of the worker.
One of the best ways to maintain good communication with a telecommuter is through the use of a VoIP hosted PBX system. With VoIP, the telecommuter is connected virtually to the companies phone system as if they were in their office. They will have the ability to answer calls to their extension, transfer calls, attend conference calls, and respond to voicemail all at their off-site location. Here is an example of a typical Telecommuting Policy:
Definition: Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed at an off-site work site such as the home or in office space near home. Communication may be by one of several means, such as phone, modem, fax, and pager. Equipment may be owned and maintained by the employee or by the company.
Authority: Managers or their designees have the authority to establish telecommuting arrangements, and are encouraged to give serious consideration to all reasonable requests. However, arrangements should be authorized only when it is in the best interest of the company to do so.
Process: These steps should be followed:
1. Either the employee or their supervisor may initiate the request.
2. If the employee initiates the request, the employee should complete the checklist, “Proposal for a Telecommuting Arrangement,” before requesting an appointment with their supervisor to discuss the proposal.
3. If and when the department head or designee agrees to a telecommuting arrangement, the employee should sign a formal, written agreement, typically called a Telecommuting Agreement to be signed by both the supervisor and the employee.
4. Once all required signatures have been obtained, the employee should be given a copy of the document, and the original should be maintained by the manager.
5. Employees should review our Safety Checklist for Telecommuters when setting up their new work environment.