Telework policies are a valuable way of establishing the scope of your telework program. They allow managers, employees, and other stakeholders to clearly understand the opportunities, limits, and expectations for telework arrangements and ensure that these arrangements are administered equitably throughout your organization. There is no one-size-fits all policy to oversee teleworking; it will depend on all kinds of factors including the size, type, culture, and location of your organization. However, below are a number of important considerations that should be addressed in any telework program. We have also included a number of example policies, agreements, and applications from various types of organizations that can provide you with some additional guidance in developing your policy.
Purpose. As with any policy, it can be useful to start with the reason behind the policy. It is a good way to connect the policy with your organizational mission and values. It also provides some context for why the policy was put in place, which can be useful for when the policy is updated or reformed in the future.
Definitions. Defining some of the key terms and language in your policy is helpful to ensure clarity on the policy details. In this case, it can be good to define the scope of teleworking as a whole, and if needed, distinguish various terms your organization might use for alternative work arrangements.
Employee Eligibility. This section can be a good way of setting the expectations for employees that want to telework. Many organizations use this section to outline employee performance standards that should be met, frequency of telework opportunities, expectations of the homework environment, etc. While eligibility may include objective requirements, more often it is a set of factors to consider when selecting teleworkers, providing managers with ultimate say. Many also use this section to establish that teleworking is not a right or benefit, but a voluntary option determined by both employee and manager. In this way, they clarify when and under what circumstances ineligibility is determined, requiring an employee to cease teleworking.
Equipment and Facility Needs. When employees begin teleworking in a personal space, it can be useful to clarify who is responsible for the tools and equipment required by the job, such as a computer, internet service, office supplies, etc. Information security is another important factor to consider and will inform the ways the employees connect, communicate, and share with colleagues and clients.
Some organizations also like to set out rules or considerations regarding the home office area. Depending on the policy goals of your organization, this may be fairly strict – requiring home offices to mimic in-office workspace – or reasonably flexible – such as allowing employees to take on child care duties while working from home.
Liability. Teleworking inherently blurs the lines between company property and individual property. Thus, it is important to understand the legal responsibilities or the organization for employees working from home or other remote locations. At the very least, consult with your insurance company to make sure you understand the parameters regarding your coverage. You should also make sure employees are aware of the application and limits of state worker’s compensation for teleworking.
Documentation and Paperwork. Some organizations use various types of forms to track and manage their telework programs, including telework applications, telework agreements, and/or telework evaluation forms. Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, these can be a useful way of making sure that all parties involved are on the same page in terms of rules, responsibilities, and expectations, with clear documentation.