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Several decades ago, working from home was rare. However, the advances in technology have made working from home an appealing option for many workers. Internet, videoconferencing equipment, e-mail, document sharing and instant messaging programs have allowed employees to remain connected to their workplace from the quiet comfort of their home offices.
Working from home, also called telecommuting, is a growing trend in the American workforce. Many employers offer remote access, allowing employees to work from anywhere. Some employees work from home every day while others telecommute occasionally. Employers who are considering a work-from-home option should consult with an attorney to create clear policies and expectations.Benefits of Telecommuting
Although employers may be concerned that working from home provides more distractions that would discourage employees from working diligently, many employees who work from home encounter fewer distractions. Home offices often provide a quieter work environment that is free of interrupting coworkers and other workplace disruptions.
In many circumstances, telecommuting saves companies money over the long run. Employees boast greater productivity and take fewer sick days when they have the option of working from home.
Not all workers take advantage of the opportunity to work from home. They may feel that working from home will cause their employer to view them in a negative light or prevent them from being able to obtain promotions or other opportunities.Business Considerations
Although working from home is becoming more popular, many employers dislike the lack of oversight they have over employees who are able to work outside of the office. Some managers fear that employees will be compelled to take advantage of the lack of oversight and lose productivity. On the other hand, many employers have found that offering flexible work policies provides them with a competitive advantage, allowing the company to attract top candidates.
Telecommuting may be a viable option for an employee who seeks reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act; for employees who are unable to work in a traditional office setting, working from home might be a good solution. Although this issue is not addressed by federal laws, many courts have determined that telecommuting should not be discounted as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. Parks, Chesin & Walbert can discuss your concerns and help you create an effective work-from-home option for your employees.Implementing a Work from Home Policy
Employers should provide equipment that functions well and allows employees to maintain the same level of productivity that they would enjoy at their workplace. Slow equipment or a sluggish Internet connection can have a negative impact on a worker's ability to be productive.
Similarly, employers should encourage communication from employees who are working at home. Employees may need to be available during working hours via phone or instant messenger. Because personal connections are also important to keep workers feeling loyal to their companies, scheduling in-person meetings or conferences to build employee relationships is a wise strategy.
If you are an employer who is thinking about implementing a work-from-home policy, contact an attorney to address your goals and concerns. The lawyers at Parks, Chesin & Walbert can help you formulate a comprehensive policy that protects your business interests and sets standards for productivity. Call us at 404-873-8048. You can develop a strategy that can benefit both your business and your employees.