Telecommuting

​A flexi-place arrangement in which the job is performed at a location other than the workplace using information and communication technologies. It may be on a situational or episodic basis, i.e. need-based; or core, i.e. a routine, regular and recurring basis. Some common locations in which telecommuters work include the employee's home, smart work centres, satellite offices, the client's office, as well as cafes and other suitable locations where employees might work while in-between meetings instead of going back to the office.

Before implementing telecommuting, organisations are advised to review the 4-step model to ensure an effective and sustainable programme.

  • For employees

    A self-assessment m​ay be useful for employees to consider the various aspects involved in ensuring a successful telecommuting arrangement.

    Employees can consider the following tips for effective implementation:

    • ​Maintain​​​ good working relationships with co-workers and supervisors through department lunch gatherings, etc.
    • Respect the work schedule arrangements and keep to them, especially when your other team members are affected, e.g. during team meetings
    • Maintain open and honest communication with your supervisor
    • Be patient: know that any new policy or work arrangement requires time for adjustment

    Click here for more tips for successful telecommuting.​

  • For e​​mployers

    Multiple factors need to be taken into account when reviewing a telecommuting request.

  • ​Click here for a sample Telecommuting Checklist of factors to consider.

    Some useful considerations when implementing telecommuting may be found here:

    If the challenges to telecommuting cannot be resolved, the organisation or employee may consider other types of flexible work arrangements.

  • Cost Effectiveness​

    Although the organisation cannot be fully sure of the nominal costs and benefits of a telecommuting arrangement until a pilot study has been conducted, it is still useful to conduct a projected cost benefit analysis to see if the programme is cost effective for the organisation. An online Cost-Benefit Analysis tool may be found here.

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Pilot Study/Trial period

Organisations are encouraged to have a pilot study or a trial period before embarking on the telecommuting arrangement. This is especially important if it plans to design a strategy for a significant number of employees.

Organisations should consider the number of employees to be involved in the pilot study. At this stage, employees selected are often those with experience. The duration of the trial period also needs to be determined.

Telecommuting Agreement

Before implementation, the management should meet with the HR team to draft guidelines for teleworkers and their immediate supervisors. Amongst the factors to consider would be non-negotiable elements such as maintaining productivity. Employee concerns should also be addressed in the guidelines.

Once all the factors have been considered and any issues or concerns addressed, an agreement between the employee and organisation which clearly outlines the work schedule, equipment used and any other relevant details of the telecommuting arrangement between the parties involved should be drafted. This helps to create a mutual understanding of the job roles and manage expectations.

Here are some resources for telecommuting agreements:

Draft Policy for Telecommuting
Sample Telecommuting Agreement

After implementation, the next step is to evaluate the entire programme. Two key issues to consider throughout this process are:

  • whether the identified business aims/goals are satisfied, and
  • whether the employee needs are met

A telecommuting arrangement should be supported if there are no adverse effects to the way the organisation functions. Performance feedback may be sought from the teleworker's immediate supervisors and co-workers, where appropriate, in assessing performance and productivity.

To assess the programme's cost effectiveness, another cost-benefit analysis may be conducted. Employers should note that costs incurred by the organisation usually increase in the early phase(s) of implementation. However, these costs are often fixed, e.g. setting up infrastructure in the office and the telework site. In the long run, the potential monetary and qualitative benefits often outweigh the initial costs.