With ice encrusting a huge segment of the nation today, it's a good day to think about your organization's stance on telework. Are your employees among the 20-30 million people who work at home one day of the week or more? That's the most recent estimate from the Telework Research Network. They report that "Regular telecommuting grew by 73% between 2005 and 2011 compared to only 4.3% growth of the overall workforce (not including the self-employed)."
Telecommuting has a lot of benefits for employer and employee alike. A few of the benefits include:
- Reduced traffic congestion, commuting time and costs - it's an environment-friendly option
- Risk management in addressing disruptive nuisances such as weather and seasonal flus that pose threats to employee health and safety
- Enhanced business continuity in emergency situations resulting from more extreme and catastrophic events
- Improved job satisfaction and morale for employees, and a tool to strengthen work/life balance and reduce stress
- Expanded pool of available workers, offering more flexibility for workers with disabilities, older workers,and workers with dependent care or caregiver responsibilities
Carol Harnett wrote more about the benefits of flexibility in the wake of superstorm Sandy in her article Telework is Good for Business, which appeared in Human Resource Executive. She credits telework policies as being "the keys to keeping many organizations - and even the federal government - open for business before and after Sandy's arrival."
The government as an early adopter
More than 20% of eligible federal employees now telework, with telework defined as work that occurs as part of a regular schedule. There's been a marked increase since President Obama signed the Telework Expansion Act of 2010. Roughly 21% of federal workers teleworked in 2011 compared to 10% teleworked in calendar year 2009. See the full report to Congress: Status of Telework in the Federal Government
Telework.gov is the official website of the federal government's telework program. While the site pertains specifically to the federal work force, it provides an interesting case study and reference point for employers on issues of policy, practice, training and more.
Workers Comp & Telecommuting Resources
Telecommuting and -based work opens a lot of compensability issues should an injury occur so policies and procedures need to be thought out carefully in advance.One of the best articles on the topic that we've seen is John Stahl's Mobile Workforce Issues: Home-based Employees and Traditional Workers Subject to Same Standards, which covered a session on the mobile Workforce at last November's Workers' Compensation & Disability Conference. Mark Noonan also has a good overview of some of the issues related to telecommuting and workers' comp, including tips to avoid claims.
Safety Checklist for Telecommuters
Telework / Telecommuting - resources from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety