Guideline 4-19: Telecommuting

Introduction

Telecommuting is a cooperative arrangement between the College and the employee. It is not an entitlement. The telecommuting arrangement is based on the needs of the job, work group or department and the employee’s past and present levels of performance. Most positions at the College will not be suitable for telecommuting. Jobs best suited for telecommuting generally involve the following characteristics:

  • The job has tasks or phases of work in which the employee spends most of the time working by himself/herself;
  • The job requires independent work and face-to-face interaction with coworkers, supervisors, or students is not required on a daily basis;
  • The presence of a supervisor at the work site is not required to provide adequate supervision;
  • A majority of the work product is quantifiable and/or results can be measured by work product or output or by compliance with a deadline;
  • The employee will benefit from quiet and uninterrupted time;
  • Security measures and computers firewalls used to protect information are sufficient to protect confidential information at the remote site.

Work activities should be portable and should involve tasks that can effectively be performed outside the office. Any technology and equipment needed to perform the job off-site must be readily available.

Telecommuting is not for everyone, and a desire to work at home does not qualify an employee for telecommuting. Telecommuters are self-starters who have proven their ability to do their jobs well with minimal supervision. They know how to organize their work and manage their time. In addition, effective telecommuters have learned how the College and their own department work and have solid relationships with their supervisors.

Considerations

Employees who have an established record of high performance and self-motivation are strong candidates for a telecommuting program. In these cases supervisors already know what the employee is capable of producing and can establish off-site work expectations that follow current on-site production. The individual should have excellent time-management skills and a demonstrated history of independent work performance. The employee must have a track record of using good judgment and must have above average job knowledge and technical/computer knowledge. In addition, the individual must have exhibited above satisfactory performance on the College’s appraisals with no documented performance or conduct issues within the 12-month period preceding the request to telecommute.

Setting performance expectations and evaluating work output are critical to a successful telecommuting arrangement. Work schedule, expectations, and a plan for evaluation should be in writing and for a specified period of time. A written agreement will address how output will be tracked or measured.

The supervisor shall identify the expenses associated with maintenance of an off-site work location (e.g, computer equipment, insurance/equipment repair, and office supplies). The supervisor shall determine that the employee’s home or other designated location provides a suitable working environment and that the employee has specialized knowledge and expertise to work unsupervised.

The supervisor must manage the work, not the worker. Methods for staying in touch and dealing with the worker’s absence from the workplace should be worked out in the early planning stages.

Requirements

All requests and approvals pertaining to telecommuting should be in writing. Documentation should include:

  • the telecommuting schedule
  • conditions and duration of arrangement.

Any changes to the schedule or workspace should be reviewed and approved by the supervisor in advance.

The telecommuter's conditions of employment with the College remain the same as for non-telecommuting College employees. The employee is subject to all Board of Regents' policies and procedures, including policies relating to the confidentiality of records and restrictions on outside employment, as are other employees. Employee salary and benefits will not change for a telecommuter. However, any non-exempt employee who is approved for a telecommuting arrangement may not accrue overtime/compensatory time. In the event a supervisor needs a non-exempt employee to work more than 40 hours in a workweek, the supervisor will contact the non-exempt employee, and the approval of overtime will be reduced to writing before commencement of the work. Non-exempt employees may not work overtime based on oral requests by supervisors.

To ensure that a safe and secure work environment exists, the College may inspect the telecommuter's off-site work space, including his or her home office, at mutually agreed upon times.

College equipment in the home may not be used for personal purposes and College-owned software shall not be duplicated. To insure hardware and software security, the supervisor, before installation, should approve all software used for telecommuting and only approved bulletin board systems may be contacted.

Unless otherwise agreed to in writing prior to any loss, damage or wear, the College does not assume liability for loss, damage or wear of employee-owned equipment.

The employee assumes complete responsibility for all college property that is lost, stolen or damaged from the employee's personal vehicle or home. Employees must contact their personal insurance company to obtain appropriate expanded homeowners coverage and present evidence of same to their supervisor.

Reasonable office supplies will be provided by the College and should be obtained during the telecommuter's in-office work period. Out-of-pocket expenses for supplies normally available in the office should not be reimbursed, except by prior arrangement and with the supervisor's approval. The College shall not provide office furniture.

Telecommuting is not a substitute for childcare. Telecommuters with young children must make arrangements for childcare during the agreed-upon work hours, just as the employee would do if he were working in a College facility. If the College determines that an employee has responsibility for the care of a child during work hours, then the telecommuting arrangement is subject to immediate termination. The employee also will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination from employment.

An employee's participation is entirely voluntary. Offering the opportunity to work at home is a management option; telecommuting is not a universal employee benefit.

While telecommuting, the employee should be reachable via telephone or e-mail, within reason, during agreed-upon work hours. Telecommuters must notify the office if they leave their telecommuting location, just as they would inform their supervisor when leaving the traditional office during the workday. The employee must be available for emergency situations and may be asked to return to a College facility on short notice.