Authored by hrsimple
February 8th, 2018
With the advances in technology in the last 20 years, the need for some employees to commute to the office daily has dropped drastically. Telecommuting, or working outside the office (usually in the employee’s home), has become a popular arrangement as it offers some clear advantages for employees and employers, including:
But not all employees and positions translate well to this digital office, and there are many details to be considered when starting a telecommuting arrangement.
What positions are a good fit for telecommuting?
Many jobs are easily adaptable for telecommuting, for example: journalist, designer, writer, accountant, data entry, programmer, and data analyst. In general jobs that have a clear production schedule are good for telecommuting as the employee knows how productive they need to be.
A good test is to consider if an employee can close their office door for eight hours and accomplish their job with no face-to-face contact (emailing is allowed), if so that job is adaptable for telecommuting.
On the other hand there are many jobs in which telecommuting would be a bad match. Roles that involve a lot of managing projects and employees, technology assistance, conducting on site meetings, or that require a lot of face to face contact with team members may not fit the requirements for full-time telecommuting.
What employees make successful telecommuters?
An employee’s position being well suited for telecommuting does not necessarily mean the employee is. A good candidate for telecommuting:
In general employees who have proven themselves to be focused, responsive to supervisors, and otherwise responsible should make good telecommuters.
How should an employer start a telecommuting arrangement?
A good first step is to sit down with the employee and their supervisor to map out how the telecommuting will be handled. A few topics to discuss are:
The employer should also remember that they are still responsible for the employee during working hours, and should make arrangements to ensure the employee is working in a safe environment (for example, there are no fire hazards or exposed wires, etc.).
After the supervisor and employee have discussed the terms of the arrangement, the employee should sign a telecommuting agreement, confirming they have understood the guidelines clearly. Here is an example of such an agreement.
Employer/telecommuter written agreement checklist
The employee will be covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage when at home, if the employee is injured while performing job duties.
The 2018 Federal Pro HR Library includes six hard-copy books and online access to Employee Benefits — An Employer's Guide, Workplace Safety and Health Compliance Manual, An Employer's Guide to FMLA and ADA, Hiring Firing and Discipline Manual, Wages and Hours — An Employer's Guide and Employment Verification: Immigration, Form I-9, and E-Verify.
These six publications will help you answer questions such as: