Things to Watch Out For
In addition to issues supervisors or managers might have in adjusting to the telecommuting program, there are adjustments that need to be made in the workplace for telecommuting to be successful. Since employees are located off of the corporate premises, there are unique considerations that need to be addressed before a telecommuting program goes mainstream. Here are 4 issues you should consider:
1. Isolation – telecommuters can experience isolation when working from remote sites, removed from interactions. Some companies insist on part-time telecommuting schedules, where workers have set days in the office for meetings or other team events.
2. Change in management philosophy – as mentioned earlier, management has to make several changes to the way they manage employees. For instance, they must change the way the measure performance, from observation oriented, to objective oriented, they must change how they relate to mixed teams, providing consistent measurement, evaluation and expectations, whether the employee is remote on on-site.
3. Workers compensation liability – This is a controversial topic. According to an article by Paige Palmateer, Rise in telecommuting prompts concerns over worker's compensation insurance, “There is no special law that delineates when the employer is responsible for injuries sustained by a telecommuting employee, says Jacqueline Jones, a labor and employment attorney at Mackenzie Hughes LLP, a regional law firm based in Syracuse." The law currently states that if a worker was working out of a home office performing work tasks, and is injured, it is covered under worker's compensation insurance. However, if the worker is tending to personal business and is injured, such as going to their kitchen and getting a cup of coffee, it is NOT covered. This is a sticky area, and stipulations around such circumstances should be spelled out in your telecommuting agreements.
4. Security of proprietary information – If you already have security protocols in place for when employees travel, or for Disaster Recovery events, you may have already implemented many of the appropriate security procedures necessary to implement a telecommuting program. Ask your security team “How will you handle transmission of proprietary information?" and “Will the telecommuter have a computer with secure access to the company intranet or sensitive files?" When you have the answers to these questions you are on the right track.
Spend some time addressing the issues before the telecommuters relocate to their remote offices. Just keep in mind, implementing a telecommuting program brings a tremendous amount of flexibility into your work environment. Take advantage of that flexibility. Your supervisors, managers, and telecommuters will prosper in an environment where flexibility is the norm, and change is the rule, rather than the exception.