Telecommuting is becoming much more common today among companies. It has a range of advantages – it allows employees greater flexibility in their work schedule, helps to contain costs, and allows workers more of a balance between work and home life.
Obviously, such an arrangement is a lot different from an employee working at the office, and because of that, it presents challenges. There is the question of supervision of the worker and making sure that the employee is producing acceptable work. So how can a human resources professional develop a plan for telecommuting so that it helps both the business and the employee?
One method is to set up a telecommuting contract between the employee and his or her manager, according to human resource specialist Shirley Chan. The contract basically stipulates that if either person does not uphold his or her end of the agreement, the individual is liable for losses. The contract would state clearly what the rights and responsibilities of each person are.
Moreover, the contract itself is a concrete piece of evidence of the commitment each person is making to the arrangement.
The contract should include when and how long the employee will telecommute, Chan says. This could be spelled out in terms of days of the week or certain hours of the day or some other arrangement. It might also be helpful to include some clause allowing either person to rearrange the schedule if conditions should change.
Since the employee will not be physically present at the office, communication also will become very important, and arrangements will need to made and spelled out in this area. Chan recommends that guidelines be included that spell out the minimum amount of communication the employee and manager should have to report on progress, give instructions, or to keep each other up to date. The contract also should include language explaining who the employee would report to if his or her supervisor isn’t available.
One of the major concerns managers have about telecommuting is whether the employee, will be able to get the work done that he or she needs to, or if the worker will be impaired by distractions. There is the prevailing belief that if the manager is not able to physically see the person working, the manager has no way of knowing how the employee is doing. Because of these concerns, it is important the contract also include clear performance expectations and standards by which the manager can measure the employee’s performance, Chan says. One of the simplest ways to evaluate performance is to make concrete, specific outcomes for the worker, such as finishing a research report, a project summary or a strategic plan.
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