A Day in the Life… A Telecommuter and Her Company

In recognition of October, which was National Work and Family Month, we wanted to share some information to help you make a more successful telecommute policy for your company. As a telecommuter and parent of two, I have the fortune of experiencing both sides of the work/family table. As a parent, I appreciate the ability to telecommute because it allows me to best meet the demands of my family while also fulfilling my professional goals. As an HR professional, among other things, I design telecommute policies that balance the needs of both the employer and employee and promote a flexible and family friendly work place.

There are many important considerations that both employer and employee must consider and discuss prior to agreeing to a telecommuting situation. For the purposes of this blog, I will approach telecommuting through the eyes of the telecommuter and the employer and address the considerations that should be evaluated when instituting this option.

8:00 am

The Telecommuter
I head to my home office in slippers instead of shoes, sweats instead of a skirt, and a mug of home-made coffee.

I’m feeling good about my life, my employer and my lack of commute.

The Employer
I arrive at my desk after making the rounds to greet colleagues and direct reports.

I’m wondering if my telecommuting employee is starting work on time and how can I know if she is spending her time productively when I can’t see her.

Considerations
Communication is key when employers make telecommuting an option. There needs to be clear policies and agreements about work hours and time reporting.

Eligibility for the telecommuting option must be clearly defined. The employer must decide if both exempt and non-exempt employees are eligible. If non-exempt employees are eligible, there must be clear definitions of break and rest requirements, overtime and time reporting.

Work load, expectations, and productivity reviews should occur regularly and in the beginning, often. The supervisor and telecommuting employee should ensure that their priorities are aligned and be comfortable with productivity.

8:00am – 12:00noon
The Telecommuter
I work straight through except for my rest period, when I load the washing machine and refill my coffee.

I work with some interruptions to touch base with people stopping by to talk about a range of topics – work related and personal.

The Employer
I receive an email from my telecommuting employee that contains highly confidential client salary information.

I think about confidentiality and how bad it would be if this information got into the wrong hands.

Considerations
It is important that the telecommute policy defines who is responsible for purchasing and installing equipment, ownership and purchasing and maintenance.

12:00noon – 12:30pm
The Telecommuter
I email out a confidential salary analysis to my client with a copy to my supervisor.

I wonder if my computer’s back-up system is fully functional because I’d be in a lot of trouble if I lost all of this data.

The Employer
I receive an email from my telecommuting employee that contains highly confidential client salary information.

I think about confidentiality and how bad it would be if this information got into the wrong hands.

Considerations
The employer should involve the Information Technology (IT) department from the very beginning of any telecommuting arrangement. IT will need to inspect systems; load software and ensure that all fire walls and backup systems are in place.

12:30pm – 1:30pm
The Telecommuter
I eat lunch, walk the dog then change into business attire.

I’m feeling a bit isolated but am thrilled to save money by being able to eat at home instead of pay for lunches out.

The Employer
I eat lunch with a colleague and work through a business quandary with them.

I am glad I got the time to meet informally with my colleague and I wish that my telecommuting employee had been a part of the conversation.

Considerations
Employers must be deliberate in their efforts to include telecommuting employees in workplace meetings, discussions and activities. There should be regular online meetings, the ability for telecommuting employees to be invited and attend using a service like “Skype” as well as on-site team building events with all employees, including telecommuters, present.
1:30pm – 5:00pm
The Telecommuter
I attend an off-site client meeting. When I get home I trip over a power cord in my home office and almost twist my ankle.

I am thankful I didn’t fall because a broken ankle would mean I couldn’t play softball this weekend.

The Employer
I finish my team’s annual goal setting and read an email from my telecommuting employee that includes an aside about how she tripped over a power cord earlier.

I wonder about the safety of her home office. I also wonder about what happens if she did break an ankle there.

Considerations
The telecommuting policy should address safety expectations and include a signed agreement between the company and employee agreeing to the policy parameters and expectations.

The telecommuting policy should contain reporting procedures in the event of an injury in the home office.

Does your company allow telecommuting? What have you found to be the most important items to consider in developing your policy? What issues have you had that were unexpected and how did you resolve the issues? If your company allows employees to telecommute or is considering offering telecommuting and would like assistance with the creation of a telecommuting policy, contact Resourceful HR to talk about how we can help to set you up for success!

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