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The Reasons for Telework

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Evaluating a Request

Denying a Request

Evaluating Teleworkers

Terminating an Agreement


  • Give Telework a Fair Shake: Take the program seriously and reserve judgment until you have some objective data on which to form an opinion. Understand where telework fits into the vision and goals of the organization and communicate that to your team. Make whatever adaptations in management style you need to make to be an effective telework manager.
  • Understand the Policies: Your organization may have prepared a number of policies or guidelines; some exclusive to telework and some applicable to all employees. Examples include the Telework Policy, an Equipment Policy, a Security Policy, and a Disaster Preparedness policy. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the policies. Knowing them will help you manage teleworkers. Understand where you have flexibility and where policies are firm.
  • Select the Right Employees: Don't approve telework just because an employee applies for it. Encourage employees to use the self-assessment form and discuss the results with them. Be sure they understand the policy and their responsibilities. Select those with the right skills and right tasks for telework. If you deny an application, have good business reasons for doing so. Explain to the employee why their application was denied and what would have to change for it to be approved.
  • Discuss Expectations: If you are concerned that work won't get done at home, set clear expectations and identify specific deliverables with time lines. Discuss how the employee will report their progress.
  • Treat all Employees Equitably: In terms of expectations and work assignments, treat teleworkers and in-office employees the same. Failure to do so will create resentment in the ranks. When you make rules, try to make ones that apply equally to all employees.
  • Trust Your Employees: Once you've discussed your expectations, trust your employees to do the work. As they succeed, your trust in them will build.
  • Model Expected Behavior: Demonstrate integrity, respect and trust. If managers don't model that behavior to employees, teleworking is not likely to be successful. Treat employees as professionals and expect professionalism from them.
  • Support Your Employees: Document your employee's successes, so you can validate the program. There may be times when you will need to run interference for your teleworkers, such as when they aren't getting the IT support they need.
  • Evaluate based on results: Look at the work product to make evaluations. Is the quality of the work good? Is it completed on time? If employees fall short of your expectations in any area, work with them to improve. Be specific about what they need to change.
  • Communication is Key: Just because employees are at home, it doesn't mean they are out of reach. Communicate freely, provide feedback, and encourage communication between team members regardless of where they are. If you are only managing a few teleworkers each day you may want to establish regular check-in times or have them email you when they start and stop their workday. If your organization uses shared calendars, teleworkers should post their schedules so you, and their coworkers, will know when they are available.
  • Embrace Technology: Use the simple communication tools (phone, email, instant messaging) yourself and encourage their use among both teleworkers and in-office employees. Explore collaboration tools, like audio and video conferencing. Telework is largely technology-driven and technology isn't going to retreat.
  • Maintain the Team: Coordinate staff meetings and teleworker schedules. Teleworkers may have to rework their schedule to come in for the meeting. The work of teleworkers is still part of the overall work plan and should be discussed as such. Include teleworkers in events to preserve team cohesion and allow for social interaction. When you talk to teleworkers, ask if they are feeling isolated. If so, you may want to limit the number of days they telework.
  • Monitor the Effect of Telework on Non-Teleworkers: Selecting teleworkers by their qualifications, equitable work assignments, and open communication should prevent any resentment of teleworkers by their in-office colleagues. Posting teleworker schedules and phone numbers will inform all employees how and were to reach each other. The right tools and discipline, will keep teleworkers from frequently bothering in-office workers to have files emailed to their home. Even with these steps in place, ask non-teleworkers if telework is causing any problem for them. Determine if it is a real problem or a perceived problem and address it.
  • Be Flexible: Employees are not all alike and you may want to tailor the program somewhat to make it better fit individual employees. Make adjustments as needed in how you assign work, set schedules, and monitor progress. Some employees may work best very early or very late, so you may want to allow them to do that, as long as they are reachable at agreed upon times.
  • Don't Over-Monitor: Don't waste your time or stress your employees with constant check-ins or automatic computer monitoring. It's counterproductive.
  • Don't Forget Security: Make sure employees understand any equipment or information security policies. Establish good practices regarding the removal of information from the office, either physically or electronically. These policies and procedures apply to all employees.
  • Don't Expect Every Employee to Succeed: If you've given it time, and done your best to support an employee, but telework still isn't working for them, you can terminate the agreement. This isn't a reflection on their value as an employee or your skills as a manager. Some people are just unsuited for telework.

In the Toolkit

Benefits for Organizations

Q&A for Organizations

Benefits for Employees


On the Web

Managing in a Virtual Organization
(SUN Microsystems White Paper, August 2008)

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This page was last updated on May 9, 2009