Posted by Judd Lowe ● Feb 3, 2021 10:45:00 AM

The Need for Short Term Telecommuting Agreements

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The past year of our new shared reality has led to the dire need for adaptation amidst the global pandemic. With the promise of a vaccine, it can start to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, with leading immunologists predicting that the end of 2021 could be the soonest that we see some semblance “normalcy,” it would seem that we are but halfway through this dramatic episode in history.

Facing down that reality, there is a shared adaptation that businesses will continue to lean on: telework. With another year of uncertainty and many organizations waffling on a commitment to teleworking solutions, forging ahead with clear goals for remote work can be a business’s advantage. But creating a reliable structure to guarantee productive employees in a remote work environment can be challenging.

Enter: Short Term Telecommuting Agreements.

For the uninitiated, Short Term Telecommuting Agreements are contracts that categorize telework not as a benefit, but as a conditional feature of employment. They create a shared document wherein an employee—provisional or otherwise—is made clear the expectations contingent on their being allowed to work remotely.

These arrangements provide several safety nets for employers looking to keep their workforce safe, healthy, and productive during the continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • They provide legal protection through outlining safety and security expectations. Creating a documented expectation of what makes for a safe telework environment as well as how to properly care for a company’s physical or intellectual property reduces risks of legal exposure.
  • Eligibility requirements give the company an opportunity to select who is eligible and how employees retain eligibility. Department management along with HR determines the best practices for determining what qualifies employees to attain and retain telework eligibility.
  • Probationary periods, structured performance reviews, and weekly round-ups allow for management to keep a close eye on how telework is impacting productivity—positively or negatively.
  • Time allotted for work, breaks, and reporting procedures are all made crystal clear. This creates some degree of oversight for a company, especially for employees who are paid by the hour. Making sure on-the-clock time is spent dedicated to work as in normal times is difficult, but not impossible with clear expectations.

The phrase “short term” is meant in earnest: most of these telework agreements are struck for periods of 12 months or less. But with new strains of the coronavirus and ever-changing circumstances, these contracts have more power now than they will six months in the future. Managing telecommuting expectations now while there is some time and flexibility will be far easier to do than if you’re caught unprepared for a federal lockdown later.

There’s also a long-view to be taken with short term teleworking agreements. Creating remote work expectations for ad hoc conditions now means having a basis for conditional telework after the global pandemic. In scenarios that involve inclement weather events and business travel, work agreements are uncommon, but inefficiencies abound: time wasted commuting in dangerous weather; unnecessary risk of bodily harm; time spent away from long-term projects. Creating short-term teleworking agreements provides a documented basis for remote work conditions moving forward.

Don’t get caught behind the ball. With easily another year of uncertain pandemic conditions to come, finding the right telework agreement for employees both old and new is paramount to the readiness that businesses need to survive these turbulent conditions.

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Topics: work-from-home

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