Flexible Work Arrangements: Telecommuting

Telecommuting can be extremely valuable for both the employee and the department, in cases that include when the employee has a long commute or the department has insufficient space.

Fixed and variable work arrangements involve flexibility in schedules ('flextime'). There is, however, another type of variable work arrangement that involves flexibility in location, called telecommuting. Telecommuting is defined as a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed at an off-campus work site such as the home or in office space near home. Communication may be by phone, e-mail, fax, and pager. Equipment may be owned and maintained by the employee or by the University.

Because telecommuting arrangements can be a bit tricky to arrange, and in order to minimize problems for both the employee and the supervisor, Staff Human Resources developed a Manager's guide for telecommuting at UC Berkeley. Please read the Staff Telecommuting Policy.

In most cases, both the department and the telecommuter are best served if the employee is present in the department at least a couple of days a week. There are many other considerations as well, so when considering a telecommuting arrangement, begin by reviewing the above document.

For more information on considering telecommuting, also see How to Choose or Benefits of Telecommuting and Flexible Work Arrangements.

Examples:

  • The employee works at home Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, and comes to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays to attend staff meetings, meet with co-workers and those whom the department serves, and exchange files.
  • The employee lives in a rural area, and commutes to a satellite work space shared by telecommuters from several different employers. The employee comes to campus on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Other Considerations:

  • The employee may find significant reductions in commuting expenses, stress, and even clothing costs, and a greater ability to deal with dependent care responsibilities.
  • The department may have significant savings in space and equipment, and significant improvements in productivity.
  • A department that offers telecommuting may find itself viewed as a model employer, and may thus attract many applicants and experience reduced turnover.
  • The campus will experience fewer problems with traffic and parking, and will be better able to meet its air quality goals.
  • The employee's productivity may improve or decrease. Some of us work best in isolation, while others get too distracted by other possibilities at home, or need the stimulation of coworkers to do our best.
  • Communications methods and times must be carefully planned to avoid problems for both the telecommuter and the department, and to assure that the employee is not left out of the loop in communication and recognition.
  • The departments needs to minimize liability regarding employee safety, security of equipment and materials, and liability for overtime compensation.

A Special Note on Telecommuting:

Although telecommuting can be a very useful tool that works to the advantage of both the employee and the department, many other factors need to be considered in developing a telecommuting agreement. As stated above, the campus has issued a comprehensive packet on telecommuting, and there are workshops in Human Resources. Use these resources to increase your chances of a telecommuting agreement that is satisfactory for everyone.