Tag Archives: telecommuting

Out Sick, But Working From Home

We’ve probably all been here – someone calls in sick, but says they’re working from home, too. So what is it? A sick day, taken out of their time off bank, or a work at home day?

HR Bartender investigates with Mark Neuberger, of Foley & Lardner, and focuses on the situation of an exempt employee doing the above. Some highlights:

Basics of sick days and exempt employees:
Mark Neuberger
: Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), one of the criteria that must be satisfied in order to have an employee fall into most of the exemptions from overtime pay is that the employee must be paid a fixed weekly salary. Fixed weekly salary means just that; you cannot ‘dock’ an exempt employee for work. While you can have a bank of sick days to be used up, if an exempt employee ‘goes negative’ on their bank of sick pay, their pay should not be reduced.

Why would a compnany tell an employee to just take a sick day and not work?
Mark Neuberger
: If an employee is sick, their attention and focus will be lacking, impacting accuracy and overall performance. An employer who allows an employee with the flu and 103 fever to make complex accounting or engineering decisions is asking for all sorts of problems.

Do we need a policy on this?
Mark Neuberger: Yes. A policy should set standards and communicate expectations.

Read the whole interview here – it’s great!

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What’s Your Telecommuting Policy?

Telecommuting is a top desire for many employees, and a new recent survey reported by Live Science shows just how much employees want to work from home. According to the results of the survey, conducted by TeamViewer, five percent of employees surveyed indicated that they would even be willing to give up their spouse if they were allowed to telecommute.

The Desire to Telecommute

In addition to the five percent of employees who said they’d divorce if doing so allowed them to work from home, there were also a number of other things that many people would be willing to give up if it meant that they could work in their pajamas. For example:

  • 29 percent of survey respondents said they would give up chocolate
  • 25 percent said they would relinquish their smartphones
  • 20 percent volunteered to forego shopping.
  • 34 percent would go cold-turkey on all social media
  • 30 percent reported they’d give up texting

Are You Offering Telecommuting?

With so many employees willing to give up so much just to work from home, it is clear that offering the opportunity to telecommute can be a big boon to attracting and keeping workers. Telecommuting may also help to increase employee productivity and reduce the costs of office space.

Of course, there are downsides to telecommuting as well. For one thing, it is not possible in all businesses. Ensuring accountability of employees is also more challenging and unless you allow everyone to telecommute, it can foster jealousy and resentment to provide the benefit only to some.

Still,  as the recent survey reaffirms, if you have the opportunity to explore telecommuting for your business, it may be worth looking into.

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Co Working Sites Increase

Improvements in technology have provided workers the ability to work just about anywhere remotely. People can work from home or in their favorite coffee shop without sacrificing efficiency and productivity. For some people, feelings of isolation or nomadic wandering can wear them down. The idea of co working can help alleviate this.

Co working is a designed to be a shared work space where people can work independently. Desks or tables resembling an office area are set up with internet connection or wi-fi to facilitate online access. These areas are intended to give a workplace for telecommuters with a social atmosphere resembling a regular work environment.

Reasons For Spaces

There are many reasons for sites like these existing. Cloud computing, women with families, and freelancers mean increased need for flexible work arrangements. Small businesses and non-profits may not have the resources for facilities. Startup companies focusing money on productivity issues do not need to worry about expensive office space. 

Cities Leading The Trend

Some towns have taken a more proactive approach in co working sites and organizations. Austin Texas is one city leading in this area. Many organizations exist throughout the city where workers can converge. Spaces are also great for teams to collaborate on projects. Regions that have more co working sites may be reflective on the predominate industries of those areas that promote remote work.  

Membership Guides Sites

Many co working entities have promoted membership fees to keep up facilities and promote a sense of community. In Minnesota, Coco the co working business centers in Minnapolis and St. Paul have membership fees where members can use meetings rooms and libraries. Many offer events for member groups and organizations. 

The concept of co working may be something that conventional managers may not appreciate. There are concerns about security online and confidentiality. Many industries may not be able to take advantage of co working.  But for participants needing some sense of permanency,   the workspace may be just what they need.      

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Does Telecommuting Work For You?

Technology has dramatically changed the way business is done. One of these ways is in the area of telecommuting. People are now able to work remotely almost anywhere in the course of their job duties. This expanded with the development of laptop computers and WiFi connection. It has only been enhanced by advances with smartphones and tablet computers.

Employees enjoy the advantages of telecommuting through the convenience it provides. Workers with families can plan their schedules with more flexibility. Employees who would normally face a long commute into work now do not need to worry. Despite this there have been some managers who do not see the benefit of it.

What’s To Worry About ?

According to the Society For Human Resources, in October 2011, 900 HR professionals, IT managers and others who implement or manage telework at federal agencies came together for the Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting in Washington, D.C. Management was the top reason why telecommuting is not more widely used followed by lack of trust, concerns over data security, fear of employee disengagement and lack of face-to-face interactions. Training of management and defined policies were seen as methods of improving outlook of telework.

Recruiting Tool

Younger generations have grown up surrounded by technology, the internet, and cel phones. They understand the changes and advancements made and is an integral part of their lives. In one 2009 study, telecommuting is particularly appealing to Generation Y workers who account for 42% of the telecommuting population. Companies that embrace this as a policy are attractive to younger workers. It helps balance work and family obligations and gives flexibility.

Security Measures

As technology in work becomes more prevalent security of information becomes more vital. Some industries may find certain sectors using telework more than others. For example, medical care staff providing direct care may not use it as much as hospital administrative staff. However medical records by federal law are to become digitized making protection of patient information a priority. Security programs and processes are continually being revised to make telecommuting feasible.

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