INSIDE: If you're going to be working from home for your employer, having a telecommuting policy is a key to ensuring everyone is on the same page and that all expectations are being met. This is your guide to creating one that is a win-win.
Telecommuting, telework, remote work, virtual work, work from home, mobile work. Whatever you want to call it, more and more people are looking for jobs that allow them to work from the comfort and safety of their homes.
While the result of all of these types of work is the same — you get to work from home — there are subtle differences.
For instance, telecommuting and teleworking, sound similar, they even look similar, but they are a little bit different.
What’s the Difference Between Telecommuting and Teleworking?
Telecommuting is a term that refers to the elimination of the commute. With a telecommuting job position, you can work from home but you’re usually expected to come into the office on certain days or at least live within the general vicinity of the physical office location.
Teleworking just means working from a distance. It’s closer to what we think of as remote work. There is no expectation that you live close to your office or that you will go into the office at any point. You simply get to do your job remotely.
If you’re interested in moving into a telecommuting or telework position be sure to read on as I dig into the details of telecommuting, the pros and cons, as well as how you can go about asking your current employer to support a telecommuting arrangement.
Common Telecommuting Policy Inclusions
A telecommuting policy, also known as a telecommuting agreement is a document created between the employee and their manager that outlines the terms of the employees telecommuting work.
A telecommuting work policy can include everything from the details of the employees’ salary, and hours to how their workstation should be set up at home.
The purpose is to ensure that both the employee and their manager are on the same page when it comes to expectations and how the employee will perform their work from home.
Some common sections that you might find in a telecommuting agreement include:
- Specific requirements
- Work location
- Hours (core hours available)
- Telecommuting vs. in-office schedule
- Job tasks
- Salary and benefits
- Necessary equipment or tools for telecommuting
- Performance standards and evaluation
- Information security
- Vacation leave
- Sick leave
- Safety checklist
- Agreement of signatures of
Pros and Cons for Telecommuting for Work
If you’re interested in telecommuting for work then you probably have an idea of some of the benefits associated. Let’s take a minute to look at both the pros and cons associated with telecommuting.
Pros of telecommuting
- Eliminate long commute – saves you time and money
- More work-life balance – spend more time exercising, cooking, or playing with your kids instead of sitting in traffic
- More schedule flexibility – while you still have to work a regular workday, you may have more flexibility over how you schedule your time
- Easier to focus – many people find it easier to focus when they aren’t distracted by other people working next to them in a cubicle, phones ringing, or side conversations
- Increased comfort – I mean, you can literally wear your pyjamas when you’re working from home. It’s hard to get that level of comfort in an office environment.
Cons of telecommuting
- Loneliness – no opportunity to bump into coworkers or have a water cooler chat when you’re working with a fully remote team.
- Blurred lines between work and home – it can be difficult to stop working at the end of the day.
- Too much comfort – As someone who works from home, I know how easy it can be to fall into the comfort trap and not wear anything but sweats for weeks on end. While this sounds nice, it can also make you start to feel like a slob.
- Too many distractions – some people may find it more difficult to avoid distractions when working from home. A messy kitchen, dirty laundry, or family members might make it difficult for you to focus and get your work done.
Types of Telecommuting Arrangements & Expectations
Because of Covid-19, telecommuting has become a necessary option for many companies. And now that employees have gotten a taste of what it’s like, they may not want to go back to the way things were.
Before Covid-19, the types of jobs that could be done remotely included things like software development, content creation, sales and marketing, as well as teaching or tutoring online. Since Covid-19, companies are finding that many other jobs can be sufficiently completed from home.
If you work in an industry or position that lends itself to a telecommuting arrangement or you’re interested in finding a telecommuting job, it’s important that you know the details of your telecommuting policy. It’s even better if you can get involved in the creation of this document.
If you can, here are some things you should consider as you are working through your telecommuting policy.
How often are you expected to be in the office? Do you have any control over what days you go in? Can you standardize your schedule or do you have the option to make it more flexible? Will you have required core hours that you must be available or will you have more freedom to choose your hours?
If you are granted a telecommuting position it’s important to outline the equipment expectations. Are you expected to provide a computer and put together a workstation? Or, will your company provide everything you need and ensure that you have access to ergonomic equipment?
In addition to who is responsible for paying for your workstation you want to know who is responsible for paying for things like travel expenses, business phone calls, and even the maintenance of equipment. This information should be explicitly outlined in the telecommuting agreement to prevent any future issues.
There are also legal considerations to be aware of when creating or reviewing your telecommuting policy. Remote work agreements should not engage in any form of discrimination (e.g. only allowing some employees to work from home and not others who have the same job description).
You and your employer should also discuss how you will track your hours worked and talk about any overtime policies. When it comes to your expenses and equipment associated with working from home, some states have required employers to reimburse a certain portion of employees’ cell phone bills or internet bills if they are using them for work. When you’re working from home you also have to be mindful of your company's privacy and security policies.
While this all sounds really complicated, your company will likely have some sort of telecommuting agreement template that you can work from. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel but it’s important that you carefully review the telecommuting policy so you know the rules and expectations associated with telecommuting.
Tips for Requesting a Telecommuting Arrangement
If you’re ready to approach your current employer to inquire about a telecommuting arrangement, you should create a convincing remote work proposal. This can include elements like:
- How does a telecommuting position benefit the company? For instance, they can save on office space, you can accommodate earlier or later business calls. Whatever you can frame as a win for them.
- Highlight your skills and qualifications. Discuss how your education, experience, and qualification make you a good candidate for a telecommuting position. If you’ve worked for the company for years as a trusted and high delivering employee, remind them of this.
- Provide a tentative outline of how your telecommuting arrangement will look. Outline the days you propose to work from home, how often you will go into the office, what your core business hours will be, how you will set up your home office and so on. The more detail you can provide, the better, because it shows that you have thought everything through.
- Prepare for rebuttals – try to anticipate any pushback that you may receive from your supervisor and have a rebuttal prepared. Having a detailed outline of how you expect your telecommuting arrangement will work will definitely help with this.
Once you get the green light from your manager or supervisor you can set up your home office and begin to reap all of the remote work benefits.
Are You Ready to Say Goodbye to Your Commute?
If you dream of the freedom, flexibility, and comfort that comes with working from home, then you should consider a telecommuting position. With these telecommuting policy tips, the transition will be much easier.
Of course, there will be some upfront hustle required to secure your new position, whether it’s searching for a new telecommuting gig or drafting a proposal to sell your boss on the idea. However, it will all be worth it when you replace your long, busy, commute with a short jaunt from your bedroom to your home office.
–By Jessica Martel