Before you dive into telecommuting, it’s important to know common corporate policies that are in place. Each employer is different, so you should look at your employee handbook or ask someone in Human Resources for more information. There are basic policies that most companies follow to some extent, and knowing what they are will help you to determine whether telecommuting is right for you.
Inspection of Work Sites
You may enjoy the physical separation between your job and home, but telecommuting might eliminate that. Some policies grant permission to supervisors and others to inspect your home office prior to signing a telecommuting agreement. The agreement itself may grant on-going permission, even after the agreement is signed.
Sometimes you have to provide a photo of where you plan to carry out your job at home and attach it to the agreement. You might decide that such a policy is little too intrusive, and that protecting your privacy is more important. On the other hand, the benefits may far outweigh the inconvenience of having supervisors inspect your work area, such as no commute to work and the opportunity to be present at home with family. Be sure that the telecommuting agreement includes a notice requirement, so that you’ll at least know when they’re coming to your home.
Independent Care of Children
Many parents seek telecommuting opportunities in order to be home with their children. There are often strict requirements for workers with children. These policies include finding and using babysitters or other caregivers if another spouse is not home full time to take care of the children. The corporation’s concern is that you’ll use the time that should be dedicated to working for the company to raise your children. Many parents make sacrifices, such as lowering their standard of living, in order for one parent to stay home, which would make such a policy a moot point. If you’re a single parent, however, you should consider getting a more flexible telecommuting agreement, or getting help at home to watch your children during work hours.
Travel to Job Site from Time to Time
Every once in a while you may need to go the corporate office to get work done. Telecommuting policies often state that your presence at special meetings or other emergencies is required. It’s unreasonable to assume that you’ll never have to go to the job site again, once you become a telecommuter. You’ll have to make plans accordingly, especially if you have children or elderly parents as dependents. Try to negotiate alternatives to regular in-person meetings, such as conference calls or web meetings. Corporations are sometimes willing to use technology in order to save you a trip, if they already use it to meet with clients.
Corporate telecommuting policies can sometimes be negotiable. If you’ve proven yourself to be a valuable employee, they will work with you to make exceptions, if possible.