Creating a Telework Program

Mention teleworking and a manager may question, “How can employees be supervised from a distance?” As telecommuting becomes more popular, the time an employee spends working at home or at another location increases. In the last decade, the number of persons who telework at least one day per week has increased by 115 percent. What was once considered a trend in the workplace has transformed to the norm.

Telework benefits both the employer and employee. As an employee you’ll reduce overhead costs, attract the best employees, and increase company retention. Your employee will save money on commuting costs, save time, and gain flexibility.

Of course, some jobs are better suited for remote work than others. Telework is not an all-in solution for the workforce, but according to the 2019 State of Remote Work report, employees are more likely to stay in their position if they can telework at least one day per week. A particular position may not appear to be compatible with a telework agreement; however, if the position is broken down to individual tasks, you may be able to identify tasks that can be accomplished in a telework setting—satisfying at least one telework day per week!

Good Communication
The first action of a successful telework program is the essential element of good communication with clear guidelines and procedures. The telework policy should define program parameters, necessary forms such as a telework agreement. Your company’s telework agreement should include an explanation of the process for participants, review of time, pay, and attendance, checklist of technology and equipment needed, and a general policy statement with goals and objectives. If this is your first introduction (or additional attempt because it previously failed!) to telework, it is a good idea to complete a training on telework expectations, so managers and their employees are clear on procedures.

Measuring Results
With teleworkers, managers should evaluate an employee’s performance by results. To help break down barriers and build trust, managers should initial the following practices:
• Maintain a sense of control even without physical presence.
• Increase trust levels.
• Use technology to stay connected; transition teamwork to more electronic-based collaborations.
• Focus objectives and expectations on short-term, project-based goals.

Trusting your employees during teleworking is vital, but it is also important for your employees to trust their manager during this time too. Organizations should grant managers the opportunity to telework so they can understand the benefits and consider teleworkers’ point of view.

Have the Proper Tools
Before launching the telework program, consider the proper telework tools (i.e., computer, e-mail program, telephone, internet connectivity), security risks for at-home work, plan online meetings, and protect business e-mail accounts. Meet with your IT department to discuss any technology risks and work to make the transition easy for the employee.

Everyone will need to adapt to the culture change. Share information about the program as it continues to develop and let employees know that they will receive additional telework training as needed. Once eligible employees are able to give their reviews on how the program is going, your new telework program can be redeveloped as often as needed to fit business needs and growth.