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Telework Pitfalls!!

Many of the common pitfalls that new telecommuters and their supervisors may encounter have already been identified. Fortunately, ways to avoid these situations have also been developed. Much of the training for telecommuters and their supervisors addresses how to get started correctly and how to deal with problem situations as they arise. Following are some examples of the common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Allowing problem employees in the program. Unless there is a careful diagnosis indicating that telecommuting is a specific remedy, problem employees will remain problems in the program and can jeopardize the program for others.

  • Allowing employees in the program without adequate telecommuting training (orientation). Employees and their supervisors need to understand the relevant policies, procedures, and other factors associated with successful operation of telecommuting. Without such understanding, unnecessary problems can occur which put a strain on the operation of the program.

  • Starting the programs without proper planning and preparation. Supervisors should not begin the program until they have worked out operating procedures, expectations, schedules, lines of communication, etc. with both participants and non-participants. Premature start-up places unnecessary strain on an organization which is already trying to adjust to a new circumstance.

  • Automated monitoring of employee performance (e.g., monitoring an employee's key strokes and time on/off a computer via electronic devices, etc.). Such monitoring has been shown to create stressful working conditions, is the subject of proposed Congressional legislation banning such monitoring, and is contrary to the management by results philosophy of telecommuting.

  • Allowing telecommuting to inconvenience and/or unfairly burden non-participating employees. Inadequate planning and preparation can lead to this situation which causes both morale and job performance problems.

  • Not adequately informing co-workers regarding the telecommuter's office schedule and/or attempting to hide the program from co-workers.

  • Not developing a clear understanding between the manager and the telecommuter regarding work expectations.