Photo by Amy Verbofsky

Telecommuting

An alternative to physical commuting, telecommuting allows employees to work from home via computer/modem/ fax and telephone. Also called "teleworking," this option is not suitable for all types of businesses, but can work well for those with a high percentage of employees who spend the majority of their time in the office, using the computer and/or phone on a regular basis.

By instituting a telecommuting policy, companies not only help reduce single occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel to the work site, they can also save on office space and overhead. And employers can gain in productivity: studies have shown that employees who telecommute are more likely to fulfill their workday time commitments and take fewer sick days.

Offering this type of flexibility can also increase employee retention and attract new employees. Even if your business is conducive to telecommuting, not every employee may be able to take advantage of this option. Companies must determine which positions and which employees are eligible, as well as how frequently each employee can exercise this option (e.g. one or more full days a week or a few hours each day).


Special considerations include:

  • Job Function: Is the employee needed "in person" to accomplish his/her responsibilities?
  • Personal Interaction: Can the employee interact effectively with others by remote?
  • Employee Skills: Can the employee handle operating the necessary equipment alone?
  • Supervision: Does the employee require direct, personal supervision in his/her duties?
  • Accommodations: Can the employee's home accommodate the necessary equipment? Will they have a separate area to work?
  • Budget: Is it more cost-effective to purchase/wire equipment in the employee's home than having him or her travel to and work in the office? Do they have appropriate equiptment at home already? Also, how will this affect your company's bottom line insurance coverage and costs?

Once it is determined who can participate, the employer may select a consultant to plan and/or implement the program, and hire a telecommunications firm to install the system, if necessary. Some companies may be able to work with existing systems, others may have to purchase new equipment. Your MAP contact can help guide you through the process and familiarize you with appropriate consultants to get your telecommuting program up and running successfully.