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Managing Teleworkers

Employee and Supervisor Training

Introducing a telework program can be a major change in the way an organization does business; hence, training is strongly recommended. Telework!VA provides online training for teleworkers, non-teleworkers and managers. At a minimum, training should cover your organization's telework policy and agreement, eligibility criteria based on the job and employee characteristics, establishing trust, improving communication, planning and organization, home office set-up, remote access procedures, IT security and performance.

Employee Morale and Productivity

Working from home may increase productivity

Many teleworkers report that they are able to focus on work better without the distractions of the office. The Maryland Department of Transportation reported a 27% increase in productivity due to telework, and American Express employees who telework produce 43% more business than their non-teleworking counterparts. In addition, managers are usually pleasantly surprised to find that their employees are more accessible while teleworking.

From their results – if a teleworker is not finishing assignments or meeting deadlines, you'll know whether an employee is being productive or not. Set objectives, trust that your teleworkers are spending their time wisely and then review how each one is able to meet his or her goals. Most importantly, pick the right people for the program. If an employee performs well in the office, most likely they'll perform well away from the office.

Morale and productivity among workers who work on-site

When a telework program is implemented properly and the teleworker selection process is clear and objective, negative effects on the morale and productivity of non-teleworkers can be minimized. It is important to clearly communicate to all employees that teleworkers are selected on the basis of their job functions and their work performance characteristics. It is also critical that an employee's telework arrangement does not increase the other employees' workloads. When management does not handle the transition carefully, objectively and transparently, jealousy and resentment can arise from non-teleworkers who mistakenly believe that teleworkers are not really working. In other instances, co-workers are not interested in teleworking, but respect those who do. Managers need to ensure that all employees are treated equitably when it comes to expectations and performance, regardless of where they are working. Employees who telework more than two or three days per week should be encouraged to visit the office to maintain personal relationships with colleagues and supervisors. As with any organizational change or shift, communication is the key to its success!

Responsibility of Teleworkers

Dependent care issues while working from home

Teleworkers should understand that teleworking is not a substitute for dependent care. Although teleworking may be attractive to people who want to be closer to home for personal reasons, dependent care arrangements still need to be made. This principle should be included in your program's telework agreement, which all teleworkers sign.

Safety and ergonomic issues

It is the employee's responsibility to maintain a safe and productive home office environment. This is typically addressed in the telework policy, by having the employee complete a home office safety checklist and through training. There are a variety of online resources that can assist the teleworker in ensuring that their alternate work site is safe, and help them understand how ergonomics can affect their physical well-being.