How important is it to have a policy defined for tele-workers?

It all depends on your company’s needs and criteria for the teleworker program. Policies can help you define guidelines and standards for employees around what is expected for them to work remotely. If you want them to have a specific remote work set up – such as a home office, high speed internet access, a dedicated phone line, then you may want a policy defining these needs. If you need to have answers to questions such as:

  • What positions are eligible for telework?
  • How can an employee apply for a telework position?
  • What are the minimum requirements for an employee to maintain a teleworking status?
  • Is teleworking status reviewed annually?
  • Who provides the remote office equipment (the employee or the company) and what are the requirements?
  • Is the employee or company liable for a work injury incurred while teleworking?
  • How will the company ensure that the same level of collaboration and communication endure in an offsite team?

If you need to define any of these questions, then the company should define policies for their remote worker positions.

What is the best way to handle a large time difference, such as 7 or 8 hours, between managers and remote employees?

Working with multiple time zones can always be a challenge in finding times for the team to communicate with each other and you. Two key things can help in this.

  • Re-define how we identify work. It cannot be defined as a regular work day such as 8AM-5PM. It may have to be a 7-4PM day or 9-6PM, depending on time zones, to find some hours where everyone can work together, or communicate with you. It can also be key days of the week where everyone has to be available during unique times for “team communication” opportunities.
  • Identify and communicate the crossover times that work best for inter-team communication. Find blocks of 2 hours each day, between those 7-8 hour time differences, where everyone needs to be available. Schedule team calls or one-on-one calls during these times.
  • You may have a sliding scale schedule that lists times when everyone on the team is available, as well as times where a couple of other time zones may have crossover work hours with each other. By setting these “time to work” guidelines, you set expectations on when people can contact their coworkers, and you successfully, and when they can expect responses.
  • As well, set expectations on when people can look for responses on their email communications. Is it within 24 hours of when the other person received it? Or maybe its within 24 hours of when they received it starting at 8AM their time (since they most likely won’t read an email at night).

By setting up these guidelines, you will help eliminate frustrations on delayed response times due to time zone differences, as well as make it easy for each person to know when they can reach their teammates and you.

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