Posted on October 12, 2015

Ask HR: What Should a Telecommuting Policy Include?

Work-at-home policies, also called telecommuting policies, are becoming more and more common as businesses shift to accommodate a different generation of workers. More than that, businesses of all types are paying more attention to work-life balance. Telecommuting may be one option for adding value to your employee benefits program.

If you're considering implementing a telecommuting policy in your office, you'll benefit from HR Support Center's advice on this popular topic.

Question:

Our organization is considering a “work-from-home” program. Do you recommend any specific guidelines or restrictions?

Answer from Ophelia, HR Pro:

If you decide to offer a telecommuting program, we recommend you create a policy and follow it consistently. Additionally, any employee who telecommutes should sign an agreement stating that they have read and understood the policy and acknowledge that any violations of the policy may result in disciplinary action.

When crafting a policy, we recommend you do the following:

* Have all telecommuting arrangements made on a case-by-case basis and with advance approval, based on the needs of the company.

* Require a trial period for all telecommuters.

* Give consideration to operational requirements, the job duties of the employee, and the employee’s work performance and attendance.

* Communicate clear performance expectations for work done outside the office.

* Note that the company will not be responsible for costs associated with initial setup of the employee's home office or for repairs or modifications to the home office space, unless the employee will need a particular set up that you would like to provide. Note also the expectation that telecommuting employees keep their work spaces safe (e.g., no loose cords along walkways).
State that any equipment supplied by the company should be used for business purposes only, appropriately protected from damage and theft (e.g., locked drawers, password maintenance) and returned to the company upon termination of employment.

* Institute a system for tracking the hours of non-exempt employees.

* If you have any telecommuting employees who are not regularly in the office, we recommend you send them all required state and federal employment notices (posters on minimum wage, family leave, etc.) to ensure you’re in compliance. You might also consider supplying employees who telecommute with appropriate office supplies or reimbursing them for any other approved business-related expenses.

Telecommuting can be a good work arrangement in certain circumstances, but you should be clear about the purpose it serves and what your expectations are for employees who work outside the company office.

We have a sample telecommuting policy and telecommuting agreement in the HR Support Center that you may find useful.


Ophelia, HR ProOphelia has held HR roles in the financial services, healthcare, IT, real estate, and telecommunications industries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Human Resources from Willamette University. A member of SHRM since 2008, Ophelia currently serves as both the Director of College Relations for the Oregon State Council of SHRM and the Northwest Human Resources Management Association.


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