Many company/organizations have a telecommuting policy which outlines the way telecommuting can take place. Many do not. If you want to introduce telecommuting to your company/organization, a great way to start is to develop a policy that the company can adopt.
Below is a draft telecommuting policy that could be used as a framework for you to develop a policy suitable for your company/organization.
Note that this telecommuting policy has been developed for a US-based company and that companies/organizations outside of the US will have different laws/customs that they will need to meet. That said, this is a good start to provide to your Human Resources people…to help them put it in to the correct language for your employer!
DRAFT TELECOMMUTING POLICY
The [company/organization] will consider Telecommuting a viable work alternative when it will benefit [company/organization] and when the job and employee characteristics are well suited for such arrangements. Telecommuting allows an employee to work at home, on the road, or in a satellite location for all or part of their regular workweek. Telecommuting is a voluntary work alternative that may be appropriate for some employees and some jobs. It is not an entitlement or a company-wide benefit, and it in no way changes the terms and conditions of employment with [company/organization].
- Either an employee or a manager can suggest Telecommuting as a possible work arrangement.
- Telecommuting can be informal, such as working from home for a short-term project or on the road during business travel, or formal, as will be described below. Other informal, short-term arrangements may be made for employees on family or medical leave, to the extent practical for the employee and the organization, and with the consent of the employee’s health care provider, if appropriate. All informal telecommuting arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, focusing on the business needs of [company/organization] Such informal arrangements are not the focus of this policy.
- Individuals requesting formal telecommuting arrangements must have been employed with [company/organization] for a minimum of 6 months of continuous, regular employment and must have exhibited above average performance in accordance with [company/organization] performance appraisal process.
- Any Telecommuting arrangement made will be on a trial basis for the first three (3) months, and may be discontinued, at any time and for any reason at the request of either the employee or [company/organization].
- It is the responsibility of the employee to provide suitable office equipment to ensure the success of the Telecommuting arrangement. [company/organization] will evaluate each remote work location to establish its satisfaction with the work site and equipment. [company/organization] will not provide office furniture, computers, photocopiers, fax machines, internet connections, telephone, telephone lines, software, equipment maintenance or computer support for Telecommute arrangements. [company/organization] accepts no responsibility for wear-and-tear, damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment.
- Consistent with [company/organization] expectation of information asset security for employees working at the office full-time, telecommuting employees will be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary company and customer information accessible from their home office. Steps include, but are not limited to use of locked file cabinets, disk boxes and desks, regular password maintenance, and any other steps appropriate for the job and the environment.
- It is the responsibility of the employee to establish and maintain an appropriate, safe, ergonomically correct and comfortable remote work environment. [company/organization] will not be responsible for costs associated with setting up a remote office such as remodeling, lighting, telephone lines or Internet connections, repairs or modifications. Employees may request appropriate consultation and guidance in setting up a workstation designed for safe, productive, comfortable work.
- The remote workstation is considered an extension of [company/organization]. [company/organization] will review the workplace to identify possible safety hazards and necessary modifications. Injuries sustained by the employee while at their home work location and in conjunction with their regular work duties are normally covered by [company/organization] workers’ compensation policy. Telecommuting employees are responsible for notifying their manager of such injuries in accordance with [company/organization] workers’ compensation procedures. The employee is liable for any injuries sustained by visitors to their work site.
- [company/organization] will supply the employee with appropriate office supplies for successful completion of job responsibilities. [company/organization] will also reimburse the employee for all other business-related expenses such as phone calls with calling cards and shipping costs that are reasonably incurred in accordance with job responsibilities. If there are questions about whether an expense is reimbursable, the employee should ask before incurring the expense.
- The employee and manager will agree on the number of days of telecommuting allowed each week, the work schedule the employee will customarily maintain, and the manner and frequency of communication. The employee agrees to be accessible by phone and e-mail within a reasonable time period during the agreed upon work schedule.
- Telecommuting employees who are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act will be required to record all hours worked in a manner designated by [company/organization]. Telecommuting employees will be held to a standard higher than office-based employees due to the nature of the work arrangement. Hours worked in excess of those specified per day will require the advance approval of the supervisor. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in the immediate cessation of the telecommuting agreement.
- Before entering into any telecommuting agreement the employee and manager, with the assistance of the Human Resource Specialist, will evaluate the suitability of such an arrangement paying particular attention to the following areas:
- Employee Suitability – the employee and manager will assess the needs and work habits of the employee, compared to traits customarily recognized as appropriate for successful telecommuters.
- Job Responsibilities – the employee and manager will discuss the job responsibilities and determine if the job is appropriate for a telecommuting arrangement.
- Equipment Needs, work space design consideration, and scheduling issues.
- Tax and other legal implications for the business use of the employee’s home based on IRS and state and local government restrictions. Responsibility for fulfilling all obligations in this area rests solely with the employee. Unless specified in the job description, Telecommuting is NOT a requirement of the job.
- If the employee and manager agree, and the Human Resource Specialist concurs, a draft telecommuting agreement will be prepared by the employee and signed by all parties and a three (3) month trial period will begin.
- Evaluation of telecommuter performance during the trial period will include daily interaction by phone and e-mail between the employee and the manager, and weekly face-to-face meetings to discuss work progress and problems. At the conclusion of the trial period the employee and manager will each complete an evaluation of the arrangement and make recommendations for continuance and/or modifications. Evaluation of telecommuter performance beyond the trial period will be consistent with that received by employees working at the office in both content and frequency, but will focus on work output and completion of objectives rather than time-based performance.
- An appropriate level of communication between the telecommuter and manager will be agreed to as part of the discussion process and will be more formal during the trial period. After conclusion of the trial period, the manager and telecommuter will communicate at a level consistent with employees working at the office or in a manner and frequency that seems appropriate for the job and the individuals involved.
- Telecommuting is NOT designed to be a replacement for appropriate child care. Although an individual employee’s schedule may be modified to accommodate child care needs, the focus of the arrangement must remain on job performance and meeting business demands. Prospective telecommuters are encouraged to discuss expectations of telecommuting with family members prior to entering into a trial period.
- Employees entering into a telecommuting agreement may be required to forfeit use of a personal office or workstation in favor of a shared arrangement to maximize organization and office space needs.
- The availability of telecommuting as a flexible work arrangement for employees of [company/organization] can be discontinued at any time and for any reason at the discretion of the employer. Efforts will be made to provide reasonable notice of such a change to accommodate commuting, childcare and other issues associated with such a change. There may be instances, however, where no notice is possible.
[company/organization] also reserves the right to terminate a Telecommuting arrangement with any employee as part of a disciplinary action. If an employee’s Telecommuting arrangement is discontinued due to a disciplinary action, the employee must show 3 months of improvement before the Telecommuting arrangement may be reinstated.
Here is another telecommuting policy from the Society for Human Resource Management