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For Managers

The Reasons for Telework

Tips for Telework Managers

Evaluating a Request

Denying a Request

Evaluating Teleworkers

Terminating an Agreement


All of your employees should know about the telework program. They should also know that there is an application and approval process, and that not every employee that applies will be approved. Employees should have access to your organization's telework policy and any other relevant policies. You may also have minimum requirements; for example, you may require that new employees work in the office for a minimum period of time, say six months, before being eligible for telework. Some managers do this so employees will become familiar with the people and procedures.

Before you interview an employee, make sure they read the For Employees section of the toolkit. This will provide them a good idea of what is involved and their responsibilities as a teleworker.

Ask the employee to complete a self-assessment form. This will help them think through their suitability for telework. You will probably want to review their completed form prior to the interview and possibly use it during the interview.

Below are things to look for and some good points of discussion for the interview:

Motivation: Find out why the employee wants to telework. If their reason seems incompatible with good work habits and productivity, they may not be a good candidate. You will have to make a judgment call as to whether a teleworkers plans can work. Some teleworkers, for example, schedule a break when kids get home from school, and then return to work later in the evening. This may be an acceptable arrangement as long as teleworkers are accessible most of the time.

Teleworker Traits: Most experts agree the following are important characteristics for teleworkers. Don't expect perfection, but discuss where employees may need to work on their skills (the self assessment form comes in handy here). These are only guidelines. Every employee and every job is somewhat unique, so you will have to trust your instincts. Just because an employee isn't "well organized", for example, may not eliminate them from telework. Your own knowledge of the employee may override what the experts say:

  • Knows their job well enough to work without frequent assistance
  • Is well organized
  • Has good time management skills
  • Is self-disciplined; can work with minimal supervision
  • Is not shy about communicating with colleagues
  • Is familiar with the organization, mission, the culture, and the people
  • Can work alone without feelings of isolation
  • Can establish a work environment at home with minimal distractions

Appropriate Tasks: Discuss with the employee the type of work they will be doing from home. Most employees will have a considerable amount of work that doesn't require them to be in the office, but there are several considerations. Work is not appropriate for telework if:

  • It requires a face-to-face meetings (Don't discount video conferencing/web meeting tools, or employees meeting with clients in the client's office)
  • If in-person team interaction is frequently required
  • If the employee doesn't have the appropriate technology and tools in their home office
  • If there is an unacceptable security or confidentiality risk

Telework Environment: Make sure the employee can meet the organization's requirements for a suitable workspace at home. Go over the home office checklist with the employee and discuss what the employee will need to provide. The toolkit's Employee Page includes information about setting up a home office, although the exact requirements may vary for each organization.

Once you've determined that an employee can telework, there are several topics you will want to address. These may be covered in training or through one-on-one discussions:

Schedules: Determine a work schedule that considers the employee's preference, but still meets your requirements for accessibility. It's good, whenever possible, to establish regular days and times for each teleworker. It makes it easier on everyone else in the office.

Equipment: Your organization probably has a policy on equipment; what it will provide; what the employee can provide. Within the bounds of the policy, you may be able to make some adjusts to better fit equipment to the needs of individual employees. Some employees may need video conferencing software, while others don't. Some may need a computer with more processing power, while others don't. As much as possible, select equipment that will maximize an employee's productivity.

Employee Agreement: Many organizations require employees to sign a telework agreement. In general, the agreement signifies that the employee understands the terms of the telework policy. Of course, these agreements vary by organization. The toolkit includes a generic agreement.

There are two topics that, while they have particular significance for teleworkers, actually apply to all employees:

Security Requirements: Each organization has different security requirements. These may include computer security, anti-virus software, rules about email, what can be accessed over the organization's network, what can be removed from the office, how computers can or cannot be used, etc. Security training may be appropriate for all employees.

Records Maintenance: This may also be an appropriate training topic for all employees. In addition to an organization's own policy about managing records and confidentiality, different types of organizations are subject to different legal requirements. Employees that work from home are subject to the same rules as those who work in the office.

In the Toolkit

Benefits for Organizations

Q&A for Organizations

Benefits for Employees


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This page was last updated on May 9, 2009