June 5, 1995
"We have to break through the idea that [employees must]....drive 33 miles a day to a central location where hundreds or thousands of people work in cubicles and, unless you go there, nothing gets done." Alvin Toffler
Governor Leavitt also issued the challenge to state managers to have as many of our state workers as possible telecommuting by the end of our Centennial year. The telecommuting challenge is not just a technology challenge; it is a cultural challenge.
To telecommute successfully you must learn to deal with less structure and more freedom in completing your work. You must learn to change and adapt to an evolving work environment. Telecommuting requires careful planning and discipline.
This handbook will provide some basic tools and ideas. Many of these you probably already know but they will take on greater importance when you are working from home.
Telecommuting is moving the work to the worker instead of moving the worker to work; regularly working away from the traditional office for part of the work week.
Simply, telecommuting is a substitute for the daily commute to and from work, with or without the help of computers.
Communication with the regular work place is maintained by telephone, or sometimes by computers or FAX machines, instead of physically traveling to the office. The principle behind this alternate work style is that the employer is paying to get the work done, as opposed to paying for time spent at a location.
The State is interested for many of the same reasons other employers are interested. Based on studies and reports from experienced telecommuting employers, telecommuting offers several advantages:
Eventually, telecommuting could reduce the need for office space and additional buildings.
Employees may be interested because telecommuting can increase options to deal with personal and/or family needs. It can reduce the expense, time, and stress of commuting. A one-hour round trip is more than six 40-hour weeks per year on the road. If job duties could benefit from quiet uninterrupted time, the employee could increase productivity and efficiency.
Telecommuting is not an option for all jobs or people. Managers may fear losing control. Employees may fear isolation. In either case, participants need to be trained in this new management style.
Telecommuting is not a substitute for dependent care. In fact, in the case of any dependent, the participant must have adequate care arrangements. Dependents simply present too many distractions for successful home work.
No. Participation is voluntary. During the course of the telecommuting contract, if participants do not want to continue for any reason, they can return to the regular office environment, subject to space availability.
No. Telecommuting is a management tool - not a benefit or right. It is an alternative method for meeting the needs of the organization. Managers retain the same discretion they have over any other assignment. This means a manager retains the right to determine who should be considered for participation. In addition, the manager can stop the arrangement if, for any reason, it is not working.
There are a number of costs associated with telecommuting. Telecommuters may need access to a state or privately-owned personal computer, a modem and the software required to telecommute. It may also be necessary for each state agency to develop a telecommuting support infrastructure and to train personnel to support telecommuters.
These costs may be offset by a reduction in the brick and mortar required by the agency.
Telecommuters should share office resources with other employees whenever practical so that cost savings can be achieved through reduction in physical space and decreased overhead. A simple formula to determine the cost effectiveness of telecommuting does not exist; the increase in productivity, reduction in employee stress, and the enhanced quality of service provided to citizens of Utah must also be taken into consideration.
The primary responsibility for personal safety, no matter where an individual is employed, lies with each individual employee. The telecommuter is expected to set up and maintain his or her telecommuting work location in a safe, unobstructed, and clean fashion. The employee should follow basic safety precautions such as:
If the telecommuter has questions about safety, office or equipment set up, or other safety related issues the employee should contact the supervisor.
The telecommuter, as an employee of the State of Utah, is provided Workers Compensation coverage and protection for work-related accidents or illnesses, no matter where he or she is working, so long as the accident or illness occurs within the employee's scope of the telecommuting contract. If the telecommuter experiences a work-related accident at the telecommute work site, it should immediately be reported to the telecommuter's supervisor, in the same manner as if it occurred at the regular work site. Once notice of the accident has been received, the telecommuter's supervisor has the responsibility to thoroughly investigate the accident and to file the appropriate reports, just as if the accident occurred at a normal state work site.
The state reserves the right to review, observe, and approve proposed telecommute locations to ensure a safe work environment. Before a telecommute contract is approved, the proposed telecommute work site may be reviewed to determine if it provides the type of environment necessary for a functional and safe work site. Periodically thereafter, supervisors may visit the telecommute site. Generally, at least 24 hours notice will be given before the visit; however, management reserves the right to make unannounced visits to the employee's telecommute location during approved telecommuting hours.
No. Depending on the job, a computer may not be used at all. Arrangements range from needing only pencil and paper to needing computers, modems, and FAX machines. If a personal computer is regularly used in the office as an integral part of the job, it may also be needed at home.
The State has given departments and agencies the flexibility to determine if state-owned equipment, personal equipment, or a combination of both may be used in telecommuting arrangements. Check with your agency to see which policy applies.
The State is responsible for the maintenance and repair of State-owned equipment. The employee is responsible for the maintenance and repair of personal equipment. Employees are encouraged to use state-owned equipment where possible.
Employees must comply with current state and/or agency policies regarding the personal use of State-owned equipment.
When equipment or software failure occurs, the employee is responsible for contacting the supervisor immediately and taking other appropriate action, such as contacting technical support services for repairing state-owned equipment. Telecommuting privileges might be suspended while equipment is being repaired.
Employees are required to follow all security procedures detailed by the information technology coordinator in their agency. Restricted access materials and data shall not be taken out of the regular office or accessed through a computer at a remote location except as approved.
A telecommuter's agency or department information technology coordinator can assist the employee in determining what equipment and software is needed at the home work site.
No. As with typical in-office workers, telecommuters are responsible for their own means of getting to and from the office.
No. In fact, the telecommuter should spend at least one day a week in the office. The basic idea is to split the job into tasks that are best done at home (such as reading, writing, planning, calculating, etc.) and those best done in the office (such as meetings). Note that to take advantage of benefits such as trip reduction and travel savings, home work should be set up for full days unless otherwise approved. Supervisors do reserve the right to cancel a telecommuters work-at-home day when it is necessary for the telecommuter to be in the regular office environment or when requested.
It varies from case to case. The specific work schedule must be determined with the employee's supervisor. Flexible scheduling can maximize benefits such as personal needs, increased productivity, etc. Depending on the job, a telecommuter may be required to be available during scheduled hours to handle customer calls. The telecommuter is also expected to be available for mandatory staff and/or other meetings and for regular communication with a supervisor.
DHRM preparing this section.
No. As employees, telecommuters have the same benefits, status and salary as other state employees in an office setting. Telecommuting is simply a change in work location for part of the work week.
As in the office, FLSA regulations apply and any overtime, if eligible, must be approved in advance.
Because each situation is unique, participants should contact their own tax consultants to determine if there are any tax benefits to a home office.
Telecommuting is simply working at an alternate location. It should not affect any opportunities for job mobility. However, if the telecommuter changes jobs, the new job may not provide telecommuting opportunities.
Completed work is the indicator that the participant is working. Supervisors must focus on quality, quantity, and timeliness of the work product rather than on the process used to achieve the result. Telecommuting means managing by results instead of by observation. The supervisor and telecommuter should establish work goals and time lines together.
No. Results of numerous pilot projects show marked improvements in productivity. Participants have fewer distractions and interruptions, can work at their best times, and are less stressed without the commute to work.
No. Based on the results of other telecommuting projects, loyalty is likely to improve because of greater satisfaction with working conditions. If the participant is unhappy with telecommuting, he or she can return to the regular office.
The success of any telecommuting experience depends on the proper mix of the right job requirements with the right person. Certain job responsibilities do not lend themselves to working at any location other than the normal work site. Certain individuals, for personal or other reasons, are more effective working at a normal work site rather than a telecommuting location. Because this mix of job and employee is so important, not every job or every employee will be eligible to participate in a telecommuting experience.
Telecommuting will not be available for every job or every employee in state government. Certain jobs, such as those involving continuous face-to-face customer contact at a specified work location, do not lend themselves to telecommuting. Other jobs that involve independent research, development of written material, or other work not requiring contact with other staff and clients may work well for telecommuting. In some cases telecommuting may be an effective alternative during the time that a specific project is being completed, but after the completion of the project telecommuting may no longer be an effective alternative to normal work in the office. All of these factors will be evaluated before a job is approved for potential telecommuting.
In order to effectively utilize the telecommuting option, the employee must be self-disciplined enough to be able to work without direct supervision. Employees on probation, or who are under corrective action will not be eligible to participate in telecommuting.
Telecommuting is not a way of avoiding work, rather it is an alternative to the traditional office. Criteria that can be used in determining the suitability of the employee for telecommuting include the employee's: work-related experience, demonstrated work performance, organizational skills, need for social interaction and independence, and demonstrated motivation. All selection decisions will be based on documented or observed, job-related criteria.
The telecommuting program is an equal opportunity program governed by appropriate state and federal statutes, rules, and policies and procedures.
Participation in telecommuting will be on a voluntary, job related-basis with a supervisor's approval. Individuals will be approved for telecommuting based on a determination of requirements and needs of the job, coupled with an assessment of the ability of the applicant to function in an unstructured work environment. The initial assessment of the suitability of the work activities and worker for telecommuting will be made based on the information provided by the employee in the telecommuting application (see attached). This information will be coupled with other job-related factors including, but not limited to, the individual's past performance appraisals, the actual work being performed by the employee, and the supervisor's assessment of both the work and the employee. In addition, the availability of computer and other equipment will impact approval or disapproval and timing of implementation.
None. Salary increases or other benefits will not be provided to induce the employee to participate in the telecommuting program. The telecommuting employee will be treated in the same manner as any other employee and will be eligible for the same salary and other benefits that he or she would have received had they worked full time in a normal office. Special schedules and other unique situations or conditions must be approved in writing and included in the telecommuting contract before they can be utilized.
Yes. The telecommuting employee must enter into a contract with his or her agency detailing the telecommuting location, hours, duties, equipment, etc. The contract becomes a part of the employee's performance plan. Either the agency or the employee may request termination of the contract at any time, subject to space availability. A state-wide contract is available. Employee's should check with their agency for the appropriate applications and contracts.
No. Like all employees, telecommuters must meet the objectives stated in their performance plans. Additionally, the telecommuting contract details the hours and duties a telecommuter agreed to complete on telecommuting days during the tenure of their telecommuting contract.