With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many employers were quick to adapt to maintain business continuity by allowing employees to telework on a part- or full-time basis. Organizations that had formal telework policies in place pre-pandemic experienced a pretty smooth transition, while those with no policy or informal policies faced greater operational challenges. Creating a formal telework policy is a great way to keep issues from arising and to offer guidance to managers on how to handle issues when they do arise.
What Is a Formal Telework Policy?
A formal telework policy is a document that clearly lays out the details about teleworking, including when and for how long employees can telework and guidance for situations that emerge when working remotely. Informal policies are when managers allow telework based on their discretion and typically on a case-by-case basis. With an informal policy, there is no company-wide protocol or guidance.
Why Should You Create a Formal Policy?
Informal policies are subjective and can seem unfair. When a manager decides one employee is allowed to telework and another isn’t, it can cause confusion, lead to rumors of favoritism, and create animosity in the workplace. More importantly, it creates a looming uncertainty for those who have not been deemed eligible to participate.
By taking the time to write down a policy that outlines specific guidance, related policies, and procedures employers create clarity and transparency. But it’s not just the teleworking employees who benefit; a written telework policy provides guidance to managers and supports the organization and its business continuity in emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With a written policy that addresses common telework issues, managers can also feel confident letting their employees telework since they know what should and will be done if an employee abuses the independence of working remotely.
Items Commonly Addressed in Formal Telework Policies
- Equipment. Will the employer or employee provide a computer, desk, headset, Wi-Fi, etc.?
- Childcare. Many policies include a clause outlining that telework is not a substitute for childcare.
- Eligibility. Which employees are eligible, what makes them eligible, and when do they become eligible?
- Schedule. How many days a week will employees be allowed to telework? Will employees be required to work their regular schedule on those days, or can they work their required hours at any time of day?
goDCgo Telework Tip: Store your organization’s formal telework policy in an easily accessible location like a shared drive or intranet.
It’s Easy, We Promise!
Creating a formal telework policy is simple with goDCgo’s help. Use our telework guide, which includes a formal policy template and sample communications, to get started. You can also schedule a quick virtual call with a goDCgo representative to get help creating a custom policy.