Travel Time and Expenses FAQs
A remote employee whose primary office is their residence should not be expected to report to a TPD office on a regular basis. Managers can invite those employees to attend meetings, events, etc. but they should also be given the option to join virtually. If the employee decides to attend in person, then they will voluntarily be traveling into the office. If the employee’s attendance is required for some reason and the employee is directed to come into the office by their manager, that employee will get reimbursed for the travel time and the expenses incurred during the commute (assuming the time/expense is not chargeable to a project). Other than training situations for new employees, TPD is not anticipating that managers will be directing remote employees to come into the office very often, if ever.
If possible, the remote employee should be given the option to join virtually, or they can choose to come into the office voluntarily. If it is determined that the employee must attend the meeting in-person at a TPD office, then it should be chargeable to the client. If TPD’s project manager determines the employee’s travel time and expense cannot be charged to the client, then TPD will need to reimburse this employee’s travel time and expenses, same as it would for any other employee traveling to an office other than their home office, as described in TPD’s Travel Time and Expenses policy in the TPD Employee Handbook.
What if a remote employee voluntarily wants to use a visitor’s workstation and work out of a TPD office for the day?
A remote employee can voluntarily come into a TPD office and utilize a visitors workstation for the day (assuming it has been reserved properly). In such a case, the travel is the remote employee’s choice, and therefore travel time and expenses would not be reimbursed by TPD.
Working arrangements with new hires will be agreed on by the new employee and their manager during the recruitment, offer, and onboarding process as described in TPD’s Telecommuting and Remote Work Policy. It should be clearly determined if the employee is being classified as a remote employee or an office employee. If the employee is classified as an office employee, then their primary office needs to be clearly identified as well. After that, the employee’s travel time and expenses are evaluated for potential reimbursement as described in TPD’s Travel Time and Expenses policy in the TPD Employee Handbook. Office employees can telecommute as described in the Telecommuting and Remote Work Policy. We expect TPD managers to make sound decisions in determining the telecommuting schedule for a new employee. The following should be kept in mind:
- TPD recognizes that for new employees requiring training, working remotely or telecommuting a large percentage of the time is likely not the best option. The training itself may be less effective, and the employee misses out on other less tangible benefits of working in an office, such as forming relationships with other team and office members.
- Requiring an employee to travel to an office for training implies that the employee’s manager and/or other designated training staff will be in that office that day.
- Consider whether working in another (possibly closer) TPD office may make sense for that employee. This may be a better training situation than the employee working from home. Consider this when designating a primary office for the employee.
- Telecommuting and remote work are privileges that TPD employees earn and maintain by demonstrating their production from home is as efficient as work done in the office. Effective telecommuting and remote work require a bond of trust between the employee and TPD, that the employee, outside the observation of any other TPD employee, is not violating that trust and abusing their privileges. A drop-off in productivity while telecommuting may be addressed by requiring the employee to work more from a TPD office.
What if I (as a manager) feel one of my direct reports needs to work from an office because they are struggling remotely?
As stated in the Telecommuting and Remote Work policy, TPD employees that would like to work remotely must meet certain eligibility requirements. If it is determined that an employee cannot successfully meet those requirements, they may need to be reclassified to an office employee with a workstation in a TPD office. This should be coordinated appropriately within the department and with HR prior to re-classifying an employee.