How to Manage a Telecommuting Workforce
This week is National Telework Week and employees all over the country are pledging to park their cars and work from home. The country is expected to save over 5 million pounds of pollutants during this single week!
Timesheets.com wants to encourage even more businesses to participate by helping businesses plan their management strategies.
Happy Employees Means Better Work
Contrary to popular belief, flexibility can actually boost employee productivity, while rigidity and strict rules and schedules can lead to disgruntled employees. Showing employees a little bit of trust and offering some freedom in their workdays makes employees happy to be doing their jobs.
A Dice.com telework report noted that, “More than one-third of technology professionals said they’d cut their salary by up to 10 percent in exchange for telecommuting full-time. What’s remarkable is that even after two years of flattish compensation, technology professionals are willing to sacrifice $7,800 on average to work from home.”
Legal Issues to Consider
- State income taxes – Some, but not all, states have reciprocity agreements, meaning that remote employees will not face double taxation on their incomes even if they work out of state.
- State laws – Some states have laws regulating telework, including workers’ compensation and meal and rest breaks.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Employers must monitor hours of work by nonexempt employees and maintain records recording total hours worked each day and workweek just like they would any other employee. Nonexempt employees are covered by the FLSA’s restrictions on minimum wage and overtime regardless of whether they perform their jobs remotely.
- Overtime – Employers are required to pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked, including overtime, regardless of whether those hours are performed remotely.
- Compensable time – In general, employees need to be paid for all hours working or waiting for work instructions during working hours. The same holds true for teleworkers. Teleworkers who are required to be available for work and/or wait for work during certain hours must be compensated for this time. Employers can make schedule changes accordingly or delineate a different rate of pay for waiting time if need be. It’s a good idea to outline procedures ahead of time for times of inactivity. Just because an employee is at home doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made sacrifices to be available at certain times.
- Employer tax concerns – Depending on specific circumstances, some employees may be able to deduct expenses such as rent, utilities, and insurance for their “home office” if it is used exclusively as a place of business.
Tips For Managing Remote Employees
- Agree on a schedule
- Maintain professionalism
- Ensure confidentiality of records
- Maintain communication
- Monitor performance
- Maintain a sense of team
Tracking Time For Teleworkers
It is essential that employers offer their employees access to an accurate time keeping system. As I’ve talked about before in a post about keeping track of telecommuter’s time, without a way to clock in and out for work, employees will write down all of their hours at the end of the week or bi-weekly pay period instead of on a daily basis. It isn’t likely that they will remember all of their hours accurately by then!
The savings and benefits don’t have end after this week. Telecommuting is getting more and more common these days. It helps businesses cut costs and it offers employees more freedom. Usually it’s a win-win situation: lower overhead for the business and happy employees.