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Your office needs a telecommuting policy

Winter storms are keeping your employees home where they’re safe from the treacherous commute to the office.

Parents want to care for their children without losing touch with their careers.

Some employees can be more productive away from the office culture.

Or you and your company may want to grow your staff numbers without increasing your office space.

Image courtesy of Ambro and

Your business could be ripe for telecommuting or flexible schedules.

But you want to make sure it’s done right.

That means you should have a policy to ensure you have put forth your expectations as an employer or supervisor.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re writing your policy.

What does telecommuting mean?

Telecommuting can be a little more complex than “I want to work from home.” You want to consider what kind of schedule works best among your employees … and one schedule may not work for everyone. Some employees may be happy on a full-time telework schedule, while others may not want to lose their connection to the physical space and face-to-face interaction with their teammates.

What technology is needed?

First, there’s equipment. Will your employees be authorized to take company computers home or will they be expected to use their own? Do you have a secure virtual private network (VPN) set up?

How will you communicate?

With technology, we have easy and convenient ways to stay in touch with our employees, whether they’re in the office or working remote. Email and cellphones are vital but other methods of communication can be integral parts of your program. Make sure you sign up for a conference calling and web conferencing service provider, like OnConference so you can stay connected to your work-at-home employees for standups and other meetings.

What daily schedule will your employees work?

Working from home provides a certain freedom and flexibility. However, an employee’s work hours need to be stipulated, because you don’t want them rolling out of bed and up to the computer whenever they feel like it. If you need them on an hourly schedule, ensure they know that.

How will you assure their productivity and performance?

It’s easy to say you expect the same productivity from your telecommuting employees as you do if they were in the office. You should, however, have a set of guidelines set up to assure productivity is met. You should also determine at what point productivity or quality of work becomes an issue, especially when it requires the telecommuting agreement be suspended or terminated.

If you’re reading this, you may have already been approached by some employees to develop a telecommuting program. Or, you may be a proactive CEO or manager who sees the value in letting your employees work off-site.

Whatever the case, telecommuting can save you and your employee big bucks in the coming months, from real estate needs for you to commuting costs for them.

Before you make the big leap, though, you may want to consider running a pilot project with a sample group of employees to start work on your policy.

Just remember, the policy should be a living, breathing document that you massage and change along with your needs and expectations, and those of your employees.

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