The Manager’s Telecommuting Survival Guide: Part I - Policies and Agreements

By George Kaytor posted 11-15-2017 10:23


Your firm has decided to join the modern workforce and offer employees the ability to work remotely either on a part-time or full-time basis. The benefits are many: superior employee retention, savings on real estate expenses, improved work-life balance and perhaps even a bump in productivity if you can avoid the pitfalls. This survival guide was designed to offer some insight from those intrepid explorers that have already made the journey to assist you in what can be a perilous expedition.

“An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” (Ben Franklin)

Proper planning is usually the key to any successful endeavor and implementing telecommuting is no different. A well drafted technology agreement is critical to setting expectations for your staff and documenting responsibilities. Things to consider when drafting your agreement:

Work Hours: This section should cover the employees expected hours and coverage time. It should highlight that an employee may need to come onsite at the manager’s direction. Additionally, topics such as overtime, break periods, and time keeping can be covered here.

Work Location: Your firm will want a section that limits it’s liability and this is the place to do it. The employee must agree to provide a safe and clean work environment that is free from hazards. Injuries that occur at the remote work site need to reported immediately and you may want to limit liability from injuries sustained from visitors at this location. You may also address topics such as furniture (my back hurts from my lousy chair),  and environmental distractions such as children, pets, or other noise conditions. Pro Tip: we specifically restrict child and elder care activities during work hours.

Technology: Defines what the firm will provide and what the employee is responsible for from a technology standpoint. This section is probably the most important from an IT perspective. Most firm’s will provide a laptop and phone for the remote worker but things get murkier after that:

·  Who is responsible for providing a fast and stable internet connection?

·  Will your firm provide a printer? What about supplies such as toner/ink and paper?

· How will your support team navigate between a mix of firm owned and personal equipment?

·  Will your firm provide an external monitor? How about two or three monitors?

Pro Tip: How will you ensure that 100% remote employees are receiving security patches and upgrades in a timely manner?

Office Support: This section should cover a host of housekeeping issues for the employee. Will the employee still have a dedicated work space in the office or will they be hoteling? Does the firm provide office supplies such as staplers, pens, paper clips, etc. for remote users? Who performs or pays for the initial home office technology setup? What happens if the employee moves? What about income tax implications from maintaining a home office - will the firm provide tax guidance?

Performance: This section can outline expectations surrounding how work performance will be evaluated. How will the employee be evaluated without the day to day observations of their manager? Can the telecommuting agreement be terminated if the employee’s performance drops below acceptable limits?