Attracting and retaining young talent in industry requires meeting the needs of employees. For millennials who generally value flexible work hours, teleworking can be the perfect solution.
Advancing technologies have made teleworking easier than ever to complete essential job functions outside the office, and employees often enjoy having the flexibility to work from home. Teleworking can be the solution to many employee needs and concerns, such as long commutes, tending to sick children, or the need to work on a special project without distraction.
Because of the increased flexibility, fewer distractions and reduction of commuting time and costs for employees, teleworking provides employees with benefits, but it can also increase work productivity, and aid in recruitment and retention of employees.
Whether a teleworking arrangement is permanent, recurring or temporary, having the right teleworking policies in place is imperative for successful implementation. Implementing the right teleworking strategy in any organization can be advantageous to both employers and employees. Lockton’s new whitepaper offers insights on creating a teleworking plan, and notes the most important considerations for employers.
Click through the following slides to learn more about creating an effective teleworking plan that benefits employers and employees.
Establishing the Arrangement
- Establish clear expectations. Supervising work from a distance comes with unique challenges, as it can be difficult for an employer to see how busy an employee is when the supervisor cannot physically see the employee. Determine the amount of work an employee can reasonably accomplish in a given amount of time, and quality measures should be established to ensure that the quality of the work meets corporate standards. Employees and supervisors should also have opportunities for supervisory review, whether it is regularly scheduled or spontaneous, to help bridge the distance and manage expectations.
- Determine a schedule. Supervisors and managers need to be aware of when the employee is going to be working, and will want to verify that the employee is available during standard hours of operation. Communication is critical, as both the employers and employees need to be aware of when the employee is expected to be available via phone, email or online.
- Address dependent care. Although many look to teleworking for flexibility so that they can be around to provide care to dependents in a time of need, employers should consider establishing a policy concerning dependent care (whether it is children or adults) while teleworking. Many employers employ policies that requires remote workers to not provide care to dependents while teleworking, ensuring that the employee is focused on business during work hours. At the same time, it is important to consider the employee’s needs in a teleworking arrangement. Allowing care for a relative on a temporary basis could be allowed in certain situations, but for those teleworking full-time, employers should consider prohibiting dependent care over an extended period. No matter which policy employers decide to implement, it is something to be considered when laying out the rules.
Working from home should be treated with the same professionalism as work performed in the office. Office employees and teleworkers should not feel as though those who work from home have an easier workload, especially since teleworkers often have a difficult time separating themselves from work at the end of the day.
Not all positions within an organization lend themselves to effective teleworking. Positions that involve intensive writing, research and analysis, or telephone or computer-based tasks are often the best fit, while other functions are best performed in the office, especially for those who need to meet face-to-face with supervisors, fellow employees or clients.
Teleworking is not the best solution for new hires, employees on probation or those who do not meet performance expectations.
Employees who are well-suited for telework must be dependable, independent, self-motivated, responsible, disciplined and able to prioritize. Evaluating employees for eligibility should be determined by job functions, but work ethic of the individual is also critical for a successful teleworking relationship with the company.
Dedicated Home Office
Although teleworkers will be working from home, they still need to have an established workstation that allows for the separation of work and home life. Employees need the proper tools to handle the daily tasks of their jobs, including a secure place for mail delivery, supplies, paperwork and other equipment, proper cyber security and paper shredders if they are working with privileged information.
Those who work remotely should also consider whether or not they will need an office or meeting room for client meetings if the employee is geographically distant from the office. Teleworkers also need to be aware of rules and expectations concerning the protection of sensitive data, including the disposal, internet access, storage and transportation of forms and documents that need to be secure.
Any activity that supports the employer’s business purpose is within the “scope” of employment, whether or not that activity takes place in the office or in the home. Employers must remember that unforeseeable incidents could be compensated for home-based employees. Accidents involved with getting a cup of coffee, going to the restroom (under the personal comfort doctrine), tripping on ice while going to get corporate mail from the mailbox or falling over the dog while grabbing supplies from the garage can be compensable accidents.
Employers need to understand the scope of activities that could be covered under workers’ compensation when considering their telework strategy. It is also important to remember that an employee could file a claim in the state in which he or she was hired, or the state in which he or she works.
Address Safety Concerns
As the employee’s home transforms into a workplace in a teleworking situation, some companies have the employee sign an authorization that allows the corporation to perform a site safety inspection to look for dangerous conditions that could become potential work hazards. Things to be considered include ensuring power cords and computer cords are secured or that there are secure handrails for stairs, both inside and outside the home. Consider having employees complete a safety checklist in their home if teleworking is going to become a more permanent practice.
Complete an Ergonomics Assessment
Although they are working from home, it is important to ensure that teleworkers have an ergonomically acceptable desk, chair and keyboard to prevent injury. Some companies choose to provide office furniture to the employee to ensure that the equipment is ergonomically appropriate. Supervisors should review safety precautions with teleworking employees to ensure awareness of safety precautions, even though they are working from the comfort of their home.
Provide Posting Notices
Certain states require worksite posting notices for workers’ compensation. Employees, whether they are in the office or at home, should be given all appropriate notices.
Consider a Trial Period
Although there are benefits of teleworking, not every employee or employer finds these arrangements optimal. When a teleworking strategy is first implemented, employers should consider scheduling frequent meetings to discuss any problems that may have arisen during the trial period. Certain issues such as personal motivation, access to supervision, training materials, professional development opportunities, or problems with technology can be addressed in these meetings, allowing both the employer and employee to work to ensure a compatible work environment for telecommuting.
If employers or employees are finding too much difficulty, it may be best to return to a standard work environment within a standard work setting. Having a trial period with frequent communication about the successes and pitfalls of the situation can help employers determine whether teleworking is an appropriate solution for the needs of their company and employees.