Whether you’re considering telework for your field or office staff, there are a number of factors to consider when assessing if telework is right for your business. These include:

  • Can some or all of an employee’s tasks be performed away from the central workplace?
  • On what basis will the arrangement be? Formal? Ad hoc?
  • How will the employee be contacted while away from the workplace?
  • How will items that need approval be processed?
  • How will the work flow through to the employee remotely? e.g. urgent same-day requests
  • What technological capabilities and equipment are required?
  • What are the costs associated with telecommuting?
  • Are there workplace health and safety requirements to consider?
  • What are the requirements for WorkCover/insurance purposes?

The following information will break down a number of these factors to assist you in implementing telework into your business:

Technology
Work Health and Safety
Managing Staff
Planning
Pilot Program

Telework and Technology


When identifying the right technology to manage teleworkers, it is useful to assess the following:

  • Is the technology solution in line with your business goals?
  • Will the technology fit the needs of all of your staff?
  • How will you identify reputable digital service and technical providers?
  • Have you considered security issues and how you will address these?
Online tools

Online tools such as email, cloud applications, instant messaging, VoIP and video conferencing can assist your business to use teleworking. These online tools can help you better manage internal and external communications. These include:

Work Health and Safety


In essence, the same requirements that apply to work, health and safety (WHS) in the traditional workplace will apply in a home or other telework workplace. For example, duties set to ensure the health and safety of workers and other persons apply to work carried out from home. People to be protected from risks to their health and safety may also include others who are in the home workplace, such as family members or visitors. You should learn about the WHS legislation in your state or territory. Contact your state or territory WHS regulator for more information. Alternatively, Master Electricians Australia members can contact our safety team on 1300 889 198 for more information.

How can I establish and monitor WHS requirements for telework?

Put in place a policy and processes to manage telework arrangements:

  • When will telework be possible?
  • How will it be formalised?
  • What requirements will apply?

Consider and decide whether the particular employee should telework and what arrangements are needed

  • What type of work will be done?
  • What are the characteristics and skills of the employee?
  • What is the suitability of the proposed telework workplace to telework?
  • What are the requirements for ongoing attendance at the central workplace?

Apply WHS policies and procedures to telework in a way that recognises the different workplace and work arrangements of teleworkers. Do a risk assessment of the telework workplace and implement risk controls – the business must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that hazards and risks in the telework workplace have been identified and control measures are in place. The processes that the business has in place in the central workplace can be readily applied to telework at another location.

  • Understand the risks associated with the work that must be eliminated or minimised
  • Identify how these risks can be eliminated or minimised
  • Provide means for implementation, verification and monitoring of risk control measures
  • Maintain employee involvement in the workplace, workforce activities and WHS consultation.

Plan arrangements with the individuals who will be teleworking (e.g. from a home office). Manage telework with ongoing monitoring, to ensure that, as far as is practical, WHS risks are being managed. It is good practice to have a formal/written agreement between the employer and the employee before a telework arrangement commences.

Managing Staff who telework


You will need to have a clearly defined telework policy in place so that everyone involved is aware of their roles and responsibilities. This could incorporate things like, information about the physical items and IT support provided; performance expectations and monitoring; communication protocols; work health and safety issues etc. Your telework policy should include the steps your employees need to take to request and move into a telework arrangement. As a first step this would generally involve an employee instigating a discussion with their supervisor or another person identified in the telework policy, such as a human resources manager. If you already have an informal working from home policy with your employees, start by reviewing these arrangements and think about what works and what doesn’t. From there you can consider developing policies and guidelines that form the basis of your agreements with teleworking employees. The following video explains five important tips in managing employees working remotely.

To successfully manage teleworkers, managers need:

  • a positive attitude to teleworking
  • to manage by agreed end results/outcomes
  • to be flexible
  • good communication skills
  • good planning and organisation skills
  • to trust in their teleworkers ability to self-manage.

Planning


The following plan will assist you in implementing telework into your business. Through a series of questions, the plan will guide you through the different factors you need to properly consider to make teleworking a success for your business. The plan is suitable for many different types of teleworking including a mobile workforce, employees working remotely and those working from home. See our Telework Implementation Plan for more  

Pilot Program


Many businesses start with a trial or pilot program and build from there. A pilot program helps to identify and overcome some challenges, particularly where there is concern about issues such as the return on investment, productivity or managing employees. A pilot program could include 10 to 100 employees in a large organisation, or 2 to 3 in a smaller one. This would provide a small enough sample to monitor the outcomes. A trial period of three to six months would be enough time to allow managers and employees to adjust to the new ways of working and assess the benefits. More information on implementing telework into your business can be found at www.telework.gov.au.

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