HR Management & Compliance

How to Maintain Useful Telecommuting

Yesterday’s Advisor explored some of the best practices HR can employ to ensure that telecommuting is effective and productive. Today, we present more tips on how to keep your telecommuters functional and aboveboard.

Telecommuting is increasingly common in all manner of industries. Making sure that your policies serve both your employees and the company fairly and productively is very important. Here are some tips for accomplishing just that.

Check out yesterday’s Advisor for more tips.

  • Review legal aspects of telecommuting in advance of setting up such a program. Here are just a few examples (this list is not comprehensive):
    • Consider how this change will affect your workers’ compensation coverage and discuss it with your provider. Consider creating waivers for telecommuters to limit employer liability over actions in their home.
    • Employer wage and hour obligations remain, so employers need visibility over work hours and breaks when applicable.
    • OSHA compliance should not be an afterthought. Consult legal counsel to determine what obligations you have in terms of safety off-site, depending on what the employee is doing. Don’t forget to consider ergonomic and repetitive motion issues for office work.
    • Think through how this change might affect taxation for the individual. This could be a big question if the employee’s home is in a different county or even different state to his or her former worksite. Again, seek advice to answer legal questions.

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  • Ensure that the performance of telecommuters can be assessed fairly and is not unfairly critiqued simply because the telecommuters are not as visible. This goes along with training for the rest of the staff (i.e., managers shouldn’t assume telecommuters are not working hard just because they don’t see them working long hours in the office; they should be judged on output).
  • Set up means for everyone to give suggestions to improve the telecommuting program to allow it to evolve and continue to meet everyone’s needs.

With all of these considerations, many organizations opt to start a telecommuting program by implementing a small, pilot program and using it to refine their policies before expanding it to larger groups. Has your organization implemented a formal telecommuting program? What has been your experience?

Telecommuting is just part of any HR strategy. What’s the future of your HR look like?
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