Telecommuting Position Assessment

In order to determine if an employee’s position is appropriate for a Telecommuting Arrangement, an employee’s supervisor will need to first assess the responsibilities of the employee’s position. The Telecommuting Position Assessment has been created to help supervisors determine if a position considered for telecommuting is appropriate for such an arrangement.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

Like other employees, telecommuters can be categorized as either exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Federal law mandates the reporting of hours worked by non-exempt (hourly) staff for both in-house and telecommuting employees. All hours worked, including regular pay and overtime hours, must be well documented. Just as they would in the office, non-exempt employees are expected to use the University’s Time Reporting System to clock in/out using the telephone or PC. Managers should regularly review their employees’ payroll records and address any concerns immediately.

Duties/Responsibilities for Assessment of Telecommuting

Appropriate

Not Appropriate

Technical/analytical writing

Anything that requires face-to-face contact with internal or external customers (front-line support)

Communications development, graphic design

Anything that requires hands-on contact with on-site equipment

Individual work (non-collaborative)

Interviewing prospective employees or vendors

Software development

Clerical support (e.g., receptionist, file clerk)

On-line data entry/data processing

Hardware-related services

Administrative tasks (e.g., e-mail, status reports, budgets, etc.)

Training new staff

Web development, programming

Conducting meetings related to performance reviews

Certain research (e.g., online)

Close supervision of staff

 Source: University of Virginia, Drafting a Telecommuting Plan

Security Issues

The protection of confidential data, as defined in the Data Classification Security Policy, is of the utmost importance.  All employees, including those telecommuting, are expected to comply with applicable policies, including GW’s Information Security Policy.  Any files that contain confidential data should not be kept on local PCs, CD-ROMS, external hard drives, USB flash drives, zip drives, DVDs, etc.  These files should be stored in a secured network folder that is only accessible by authorized personnel.  Email is inherently insecure and confidential data should never be sent via email unless encryption software is used.

All work computers should be password protected and, pursuant to the Network Usage and Security Policy, employees shall not share their passwords with anyone else.  Pursuant to the Information Security Policy, employees are expected to secure all university-owned computers and other portable electronic devices by employing strong passwords and physical protections, such as locking cables, whenever these devices are left unattended. 

Employees should not keep any hard copies of any documents that contain confidential data outside of the university, such as at their homes or other alternative work locations.  Positions that require regular use of documents containing confidential data may not be appropriate for a Telecommuting Arrangement.

Client/Customer Support of Telecommuting Arrangement

In assessing the viability of a telecommuting arrangement, it is important to determine how well an employee’s clients or customers will accept such an arrangement.  Clients/customers should still be able to easily communicate with a telecommuting employee and feel their needs are being met. 

In some cases, this may mean helping clients/customers overcome their concerns with telecommuting.  When telecommuting employees demonstrate that a telecommuting arrangement does not mean a lower level of service, clients/customers may quickly discover the inherent benefits of telecommuting, including decreased response time and increased productivity.  As with any work unit, a department with telecommuting employees should  encourage clients/customers to view the department as a team, so that if the telecommuting employees are not available in-person on a certain day, they can contact other staff who can assist them.

Supervisors should consider clients’/customers’ needs when deciding how many days a week an employee is able to telecommute.  An employee may need to start with a  limited telecommuting arrangement   An employee can always modify his/her Telecommuting Agreement in the future based on experience and feedback from clients/customers.

Next Step:

Telecommuting Feasibility Assessment

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