Telework and Compressed Work Weeks can help your business boost employee productivity and provide these additional benefits:
Ensure business continuity - Telework allows employees to remain productive during construction projects or other emergencies.
Increase employee recruitment and retention - Attract a talented workforce by offering a benefit employees value. And employees are more likely to stay with jobs that offer flexibility.
Use your workspace more efficiently - Many employers are able to cut back on their use of office space and parking through a telework program.
Contribute to your sustainability goals - Telework and compressed work week programs can be used to reach Commute Trip Reduction targets, LEED certifications and reduce carbon emissions.
Feel free to utilize any of these downloadable templates to help in implementing your telework program.
Teleworking—also known as telecommuting—refers to working at home or another location, rather than commuting to an employer's usual workplace. Teleworkers normally use computers and other telecommunications technologies to accomplish job tasks. Many employees telework only once or twice per week, while others telework full time and go to the office only occasionally.
Teleworking can be done with standard technologies like a computer, phone and email in addition to remote access or other hardware and software. Wireless technologies like smartphones and tablet computers make being virtual even easier. The equipment for teleworking can be provided by the employer, the employee or a combination of the two.
Most information-based jobs are appropriate for teleworking. Teleworking is ideal for jobs or tasks that require reading, writing, research, working with data and talking on the phone. Some jobs that may not seem appropriate at first may be modified so that employees can telework, at least on a part-time basis.
The ideal teleworker is well-organized, able to work independently and requires minimal supervision. Successful teleworkers have a high degree of job skill and knowledge and strong time management skills. Teleworkers don't mind working alone. Teleworking is not ideal or desirable for every employee.
Some managers wonder if employees are really working, or if they are distracted with household duties and/or dependent care. These potential problems can be avoided by establishing clear objectives, and focusing on quantity, quality and timeliness. The employee's completed work product is the indicator, rather than direct observation. Survey results show marked improvements in productivity among teleworkers because employees have fewer distractions and interruptions, work at their peak times and experience less stress due to the absence of the commute to work.
The ideal manager of teleworkers (telemanager) has a positive attitude toward teleworking and is willing to allow employees to telework. A telemanager manages by results and not by monitoring work hours. Telemanagers delegate work easily, are well organized and trust their employees. Not every manager is comfortable with a style of management that is conducive to successful teleworking. Teleworking presents an opportunity for managers to become better supervisors. By focusing on the employee's work product, telemanagers will improve their organizational abilities and their own skill in managing by objectives.
Teleworking is a workplace strategy that is typically available for the right job, the right employee with management's approval and the right technology. It is important to communicate the availability of the program so it is not perceived as being universally applicable to all employees.
Although many employees expect non-teleworkers to resent teleworkers, this is not necessarily true. Based on research conducted of non-teleworkers after a telework program has been in place for a few months, the conclusion was that teleworking became "business as usual." Managers and teleworkers should also make sure that no extra work responsibilities are placed on non-teleworkers, because they may physically be in the office.
Many techniques are available to overcome the feeling of isolation. These include part-time teleworking, core days in the office and frequent communication via telephone and voice-mail. In addition, teleworkers should be included in all scheduled meetings and events.
Sick leave: Teleworkers generally use less sick leave. An employee working in a regular office usually has to use half a day to get to the doctor or dentist appointment. A teleworker can take one or two hours and then return to work. In addition, often an employee who does not feel well enough to come to the workplace may be able to work some hours at home.
Overtime: For non-exempt employees, the rules for overtime are the same as they are in the office. Please refer to your HR handbook for guidance.
Teleworkers should designate a work area in their homes. A separate room provides greater privacy but is not necessarily required. Teleworkers must gain the trust and support of their families, coworkers, clients and managers. Teleworkers need to be aware of the tendency to work long hours and the need to take breaks.
Compressed work weeks
Compressed work weeks allow employees to work longer hours over fewer days in order to get additional days off on a regular basis. For example, in a job that is typically 40 hours in five days, a compressed work week might be a “4/40” schedule in which an employee works four 10-hour days and takes the fifth day off, or a.”9/80” schedule, whereby an employee works 80 hours in nine days and takes the 10th day off.
Compressed work weeks eliminate some commute days, often shift the remaining commutes outside peak traffic times, and allow more flexible time for family and personal pursuits. Compressed work weeks have a positive impact on morale, productivity and job satisfaction for the employee and companies are able to recruit and retain valuable skilled workers by offering such strategies.
A written policy is essential. It provides the basic information employees need to participate and the available options. The written policy incorporates eligibility requirements, restrictions, monitoring and procedures to participate.
Other organizations with experience with compressed work week programs have reported that this problem has rarely arisen, even though it is assumed that it will be a serious problem. Decisions for approving flexible work requests should not be based on personal need but rather on organizational needs. However, if similar proposals are presented, it may be appropriate to consider personal issues to resolve competing needs. Objective criteria, such as seniority, special skills or specific office needs, may serve to resolve these conflicts. Often, a group discussion and team approach helps. Not everyone needs to have the same day off.
Based on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt staff should maintain the same number of hours worked weekly during the revised schedule as well as when more traditional hours are worked. Remember, over time pay is required for non-exempt staff work in excess of normal work week hours up to forty hours a week. Above forty hours a week, time and half pay is required. In a 9/80 program, the pay period is often cut off at noon on Friday to avoid going over 40 hours per week. Learn more about the FLSA and flexible scheduling and consult your human resources staff for guidance on correctly administering the program for non-exempt employees.
- Find solutions to help managers monitor employee attendance. Challenges arise when managers work different schedules than their employees, arriving and leaving at varying times or taking different compressed work week days off.
- Establish core times and core days if inter-departmental or all-company meetings are regular or essential.
- Involve company accountants in developing the policy to expedite accounting for payroll, holiday pay, vacation, overtime, absences, etc. Train managers on policies and procedures.