Telecommuting and Remote Work Policies and Procedures
TPD has always placed work/life balance at the top of the list when it comes to employee benefits, because it fosters a healthier and less stressful workplace, and improves employee health and well-being while increasing productivity. We want to make sure employees feel comfortable returning to the office and therefore, as recently communicated, employees have the option to continue telecommuting and working remotely through the summer months, with the provision that the employee’s schedule is coordinated and agreed upon between the employee and their direct manager.
TPD has revised its Telecommuting policy to a new Telecommuting and Remote Work policy. Every employee that wishes to telecommute (your primary office is a TPD office, but you have the capability to work from home) or work remotely (your primary office is your home because you work from home or an office provided by “others”), should read this policy carefully. If you are interested in working remotely and changing your primary office to your home after the summer, or would like to telecommute on a regular schedule, please speak to your manager at any time to discuss your eligibility. For an employee proposing to change their work schedule relative to pre-pandemic conditions, the summer months can be utilized for discussing the proposed change with your manager, to make sure it is appropriate, and your work responsibilities can be fully satisfied under the proposed schedule (as outlined in the Telecommuting and Remote Work policy).
If the change that is agreed upon is a remote work arrangement, it can be documented by your manager by filling out the Employee Change Notification Form to change your primary office to remote. Please note, this form is for a manager to document an agreed-upon change, not a form for an employee to request a change. For employees who wish to continue to work remotely after the summer months, the deadline for the manager to complete this form is September 7, 2021. However, this policy and process will remain active so that employees can continue to propose changes in their work schedules as life situations evolve.
You are considered a remote employee when you do not have a dedicated workstation in a TPD office.
As stated in the policy, if you want to telecommute on a regular basis, please talk to your manager for approval per the Telecommuting and Remote Work policy. If your office has enough workstations for all your coworkers plus enough workstations for visitors, you might not need to share a workstation. If your office is reaching capacity, the utilization of the workstations in your office will need to be evaluated and you might need to share a workstation with another employee or be reclassified as a remote employee.
If you are returning to the office but still plan on telecommuting throughout the summer, then you would need to bring your equipment back to the office. However, it is expected that all employees that intend to telecommute also have an adequate set up at home, that must be purchased by you, so they can remain productive. If needed, you can keep one monitor at home, but the IT Department needs to be notified. TPD is asking to have all borrowed IT equipment back by September 7, 2021.
If you have questions about what equipment needs to be returned or would like to talk to IT about purchasing the equipment you have, please reach out to Information Technology in advance so you will have a more seamless transition back to the office.
Telecommuting and Remote Work Resources
Human Resources is looking into training options for employees so they can develop and enhance their skills regarding working from home. An important component of efficient work from home is setting up an appropriate home workstation. As the telecommuting or remote work employee will be saving substantially on commuting costs, TPD expects the employee to direct some of these savings towards the establishment of a home workstation and environment which promote efficient work.
Human Resources is looking into training options for managers, so they have resources regarding best practices for managing telecommuting and remote employees.
Advantages of telecommuting and remote work may include the following:
- Workplace flexibility is an employee benefit but can also be used as a management tool to increase efficiency and enhance productivity. It can be viewed as a mutually beneficial business process for employees and managers.
- Helps with employee attraction and retention.
- Produces time and cost savings for the employee resulting from reduced commuting.
- Produces cost savings for the company resulting from reductions in turnover and absenteeism.
- Decreases stress on employees and increases health and well-being which have impacts on absenteeism and lowers overall health care costs.
- Expands availability to clients.
- Increases employee commitment and engagement.
- Allows for business continuity during emergency circumstances such as a weather event or pandemic.
As a manager I feel more comfortable training staff in an office environment, can I request my direct reports to come in the office for training if they choose to work remotely?
Yes. In most circumstances you can request that an employee come into the office for certain trainings, meetings, or team events. If the training is for a long duration, the schedule should be agreed upon by the employee and manager and the department manager should be notified of the arrangement.
If I am working remotely, how do I communicate effectively with my manager and team? If I am a manager, how do I communicate effectively with my remote direct report?
Effective communication is critical in establishing trust, and both managers and direct reports may need to be more purposeful in how they check in with each other. It is important to set clear expectations and establish regular check-in meetings at appropriate intervals. It is also recommended that you utilize different modes of communication (Teams Instant Messenger, Teams video, email, phone call, etc.) for different types of conversations, and know and respect your coworkers preferred mode(s) of communication.
Working remotely is not for everyone. The employee’s work efficiency from home must be continuously monitored by setting expectations for durations for tasks and establishing deadlines for deliverables. Some people are more capable of efficient work while working remotely than others. If a manager finds the quality or efficiency of an employee’s work is declining, one possible remedy may be for the employee to report to the office more often or even full-time. The employee must always meet the eligibility requirements in the Telecommuting and Remote Work policy.
Will remote workers feel a part of the team? Will they form and maintain relationships with co-workers?
Communication is key to establishing and maintaining relationships, in person and remotely. If you are a manager and if it is possible, set up assignments so employees are working and interacting with different individuals from your team and the company. Managers can also provide opportunities for social interaction (informal social hours or informal weekly lunches) which remote employees should attend. Taking time at the beginning or end of meetings for informal conversation is another way to build and expand relationships in a hybrid world. The Return to the Office Committee is looking in to forming a mentorship program so employees will have connections within TPD besides the staff they are working with directly.
Managers should focus on results, not “face time”, but that does not mean it will not be a challenge. Remember that your performance speaks volumes whether you are in the office or working remotely. TPD is strongly encouraging employees to follow these best practices that we thought were helpful from the Society of Human Resources (SHRM): Focus on building relationships. Try to participate in as many virtual get-togethers and optional meetings as you can so your co-workers and management can see your abilities and leadership skills firsthand. And even though you are not physically in the office, you should act as if you were—for example, during meetings, it is recommended to keep your camera on and be appropriately dressed. Contributing ideas, supporting teammates even when you have a full plate, and taking a proactive approach when challenges arise will go a long way in showing why you deserve to be recognized.
We would not be able find a building big enough to fit TPD’s culture into and we are not going to try. Although our offices can be hubs for individuals and departments to touch base, our culture was never contained within those walls. TPD’s company culture is intangible and unable to be duplicated – it encompasses the unique way we do what we do and how we make people feel… through delivering and achieving our mission, vision, and values. It is our commitment to our clients and the quality we provide them. It is also providing our employees with the tools they need to build a flexible, healthy lifestyle while growing professionally.
Will office-based and other corporate events held for TPDers resume? Will I be able to attend them as a remote employee?
As we continue to expand geographically and remotely, plans will continue to evolve, with the goal of bringing as many TPDers together as possible for these events (i.e., quarterly lunch events, QoL Trips, corporate parties, etc.). We plan to slowly and carefully resume company-wide events again soon and will do our best to accommodate TPDers that may be interested in joining the group.
What will TPD be doing to help maintain company culture with more people than pre-Covid telecommuting and working remotely?
Besides the events above, several initiatives during the fifteen months of Covid will be retained. One such initiative will be the continuation of “Fireside Chats” with Kevin. Currently, he is on his second such set of chats through his participating in the Diversity and Inclusivity sessions led by Herman Lloyd. Whether telecommuting or working remotely, the average person saves one hour a day in commuting time. This time can be used by Office Managers to hold more frequent meetings with the staff in their offices. Team leaders can use this time for more frequent meetings with their direct reports. These meetings and Fireside Chats can be used to not only address current items, but in the big picture discuss where the company is going.
Likewise, to paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what TPD can do for you to maintain connectivity with those working remotely, ask what those working remotely can do to maintain connectivity with TPD.” With the extra hour or so each day when not commuting, individual employees also need to take advantage of this time to maintain connectivity to fellow team members and office members.