A written policy provides protection for both employers and workers and a draft should be available for discussion by the time of any of any the pilot study. Clarifying the following issues early on avoids misunderstanding at a later date. As well as a broad policy, a specific agreement with individual teleworkers is advisable. This is usually drafted as a variation of the existing contract of employment. Who is suitable? There should be a transparent policy for choosing those who can telework. This should be based on the job type and whether it can be done from home, and the personality of the individual. Some people are more suited to teleworking than others. They should be self-disciplined, good decision makers with good communication skills and the ability to work without social contact.

The home office

Establish where the worker will work from, ideally in a separate room. A visit is recommended by a manager or health and safety officer to assess the area. The CIPD, points out the employer is still liable for the member of staff so an inspection is in fact an important step.

Considerations include:

  • what equipment is available?
  • who will supply any other equipment?
  • will the company insurance scheme cover employees at home?
  • who is responsible for maintenance?

Remember that the privacy of the worker should be safeguarded. Do you have arrangements to protect the phone number and address of employees? Some organisations advise that employees do not meet clients in their homes.

Training

A training assessment should be carried out for teleworkers. You will need to assess any particular requirements the employee has, e.g. IT skills. An induction is recommended for those that will be working from home.

Managers will also need to improve their interpersonal skills for an environment involving less authority and more trust. Communication procedures It is usual to specify a number of core hours when the teleworker is available for telephone contact. Working hours are not generally affected by teleworking.

Effective communication is the key to teleworking, so communications guidelines must be formalised. Issues to address include:

  • the location of the home office and contact details
  • use of fax, phone, email and mobile (e.g. not discussing company business in public areas)
  • agreed core contact times
  • arrangement for scheduling meetings with managers and colleagues

Security

Teleworkers must be aware of security issues and some special arrangements may be necessary, for example secure document disposal. Other considerations include:

  • securing the home office and the PC
  • virus checking
  • backing up data
  • confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements

Monitoring and evaluation

Without some performance indicators, it is difficult to support the business case for teleworking. Hours worked are not the only way of evaluating teleworking. Others include:

  • running costs
  • productivity
  • service levels
  • changes in work activity, e.g. there may be a reduction in the breadth of tasks an individuals can perform from home
  • working hours, sickness, absence, staff turnover.

Notice

Where teleworking is voluntary, rather than required by job description, employer and employee must be able to end the teleworking arrangement if it is no longer suitable. This is usually a month.

Terms and conditions

Teleworkers have the same rights as other employees, but you may wish to clarify certain areas:

  • core hours
  • hours or days worked from home and the office
  • procedures for monitoring working time, overtime, sickness and holiday
    reimbursement of expenses.