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With advanced communications capabilities, the desire to save money and the need to conserve energy and manage traffic congestion, more and more companies are turning to teleworking. Teleworking, allows employees to work at home or at a local telework center. Communication is accomplished via Internet, phone, fax, and teleconferencing.

In addition to doing their part to conserve energy, manage traffic congestion and air pollution, companies enjoy a wide array of benefits from teleworking:

Cost savings
The main savings are on office space and overhead.  Companies adopting teleworking also maximize staff retention and significantly reduce parking and travel expenses.

Increased productivity
It is common to see an increase in productivity from 10%-40%.  Teleworkers avoid travel time, traffic and the daily interruptions of an office environment.

Improved motivation
Employees often enjoy a great sense of trust and renewed confidence in their capabilities when an employer adopts a more autonomous work environment.

Skills retention
Employers can retain good employees who would otherwise be forced to quit, when for example the family moves because a spouse has taken a job out-of-town.  Employees who are ill or on maternity leave can continue to work part-time from home and keep abreast of company business and industry trends. 

Organization flexibility
Companies experiencing restructuring or reorganization have smoother transitions because teams can be assembled and reassembled as needed. Teams representing the best skills and experience can be created, regardless of geography and time zones.

Flexible staffing
Companies that undergo seasonal or irregular workload levels can better manage projects, and in some cases, reduce the amount of overtime paid by having staff remain on "standby rates".

We are in an age where terrorist attacks and severe weather can cripple a company.  Organizations with effective teleworking programs are far more resilient and pliable.  Meetings via teleconferencing and videophone will go on with little worry of a missing keynote speaker.

Enhanced customer service
Customer services can be extended beyond the regular workday or workweek without the costs of overtime.

For more information, contact Jennifer Zucker at jzucker@bethesda.org or at 301-656-0868 x118.

Additional resources: 
Commuter Connections - Telework
Telework Exchange
How to manage your telecommuting staff
credited to Sharon Abreu at CNN.com
Create a plan
A plan that envisions your team’s short- and long-term goals is important.  Teleworkers work, in large part, on their own and need the power to make certain decisions independently.  In order to do this effectively, they need to understand the company’s goals and objectives, and have a clear understanding of their role in achieving them. 

Written agreement
Even though research has shown that teleworkers typically work 10-40% more efficiently and longer hours, many employers remain skeptical.  To help alleviate concerns, employers should create a written agreement.

The written agreement should, include at minimum:

  • Company goals, priorities and objectives
  • Ownership of equipment and/or compensation for employee-owned equipment
  • Criteria for performance evaluations
  • Office attendance
  • Any legal considerations (security, licensing, etc.)
  • Grounds for termination
Control calls
Don’t allow employees to use their personal cell phone or home phone for business.  Tom Reynolds recommends that companies make provisions so employees aren't receiving calls directly on their home lines. He suggests that incoming calls should go to the central office and get re-routed from there.  This will ensure that if a telecommuter quits or gets fired, you can easily reroute calls to his or her replacement. 

Bulletin board
A bulletin board for teleworkers on the company intranet provides easy access to information that employees need to do their jobs. It also allows them to communicate efficiently with managers and coworkers.

Reliable high-speed connections
Make sure your teleworkers have reliable hardware and a fast, reliable ISP. Find out which high-speed connection works best in your area, Cable or DSL. Phone companies can offer that high-speed Internet access over regular phone lines, though you'll need a special high-speed modem. Enabling teleworkers to get their work done quickly and easily will make your job easier.

Continuity and structure
Have regularly scheduled short meetings to catch up on work progress and discuss any problem areas with your teleworkers. Regularly scheduled meetings help in setting short-term goals and brief meetings are usually more efficient than long ones.

The right people
Select teleworkers carefully. Ideally, teleworkers should be proven employees. Choose self-starters who work well independently and get work done on time.

Results-based management
Managers need to move from procedure-based to results-based management. Tom Reynolds concurs: "If you're not willing to let your employees telework, you haven't done your job as a manager because you can't adequately judge your employees' performance: you've lost the focus of the performance."

Training and consulting
Managers may need to learn how to manage virtually. "Not having each and every employee visible is a big adjustment for supervisors and managers," says Roseberry. "Many employers and managers aren't aware of the technological and organizational innovations that make teleworking possible and practical for their companies."

In sum, managing teleworkers is not unlike managing employees onsite. It requires management skills such as goal setting, assessing progress, giving regular feedback, and managing based on outcomes. Plan carefully, communicate often, pick the right people, give them the right tools, and get help if you need it, and you will succeed as a manager of teleworkers.
Telework Resource Centers
The Telework Resource Center was established in 1996 as part of an expanded alternative commute program in the Washington metropolitan region. The program, known as Commuter Connections, is designed to improve air quality by reducing single-occupancy vehicle commuting. Commuter Connections is administered by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), an association of 17 local governments in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

The Telework Resource Center provides free information and assistance to help local organizations start or expand telework programs. Services include a telework information kit and video, FREE seminars for employers and employees, and one-on-one assistance.

Bowie State University
Telecommuting Center
Bowie State University
Thurgood Marshall Library
14000 Jericho Park Rd., Rm 082
Bowie, MD 20715
301-352-4513 (fax)

Hagerstown Telework Center
14 North Potomac Street, Suite 200
Hagerstown, MD 21740
301-745-5700 (fax)


George Mason University Telework
and Training Centers

3 locations:

4031 University Drive,
First Floor 768 Center Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

150 Elden St. Suite 270
Herndon, VA 20170

10900 University Blvd.
Bull Run Hall
Manassas, VA 20110


Telework Resource Center
Metropolitan Washington
Council of Governments
777 North Capitol Street, NE
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20002
1-800-745-RIDE (general information)
202-962-3218 (fax)
Nicholas Ramfos
Director, Commuter Connections
202-962-3313 (business)

Preferred Office Club
1025 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 1012
Washington, DC 20036
202-857-9799 (fax)
Flextime and Compressed Work Weeks
For employees whose job does not lend itself to teleworking, Flextime may be a viable option.  Employees working on Flextime are able to select the hours they will work, which can be tailored around peak travel times on public transit or traffic.  For example, an employee can just as easily work from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as they can from the traditional 9:00 to 5:00 schedule.  By coming in earlier and leaving earlier, they can avoid some of the rush hour crush. To read more about the benefits of Flextime, click here.

Employees can also work compressed work weeks.  Instead of working five 8-hour days, employees working compressed work weeks work four 10-hour days and take the traditional fifth day off.

Uncle Sam
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