Are There Risks to Letting Employees Telecommute?

As one of the premier recruitment firms in Houston, we’ve seen how telecommuting has become a popular solution for employers and employees alike, looking to take advantage of a more flexible schedule. In fact, according to a recent study commissioned by Skype, 62% of the 1,000 businesses surveyed reported allowing employees to work remotely, either on a part-time or a full-time basis.

Telecommuting certainly offers a variety of great benefits, including gas savings, lower overhead expenses, and increased employee retention. However, there is a downside as well. So before you decide to move forward with a telecommuting program at your company, be sure to consider the following 3 issues:

Issue #1: Safety in the Workplace

Despite what you might think, you’re still responsible for an employee’s workplace safety while they’re on the clock – even if they work from home. So if you have an employee that develops an injury related to an unsafe home office environment, you could be held liable. While you’re not required under law to inspect an employee’s home office ahead of time, it’s still a good idea. If an injury does happen, also be sure to have a plan in place ahead of time for handling these kinds of situations.

Issue #2: Protecting Company Data

With cybercrime on the rise, protecting your company data is hard enough at the office. But it becomes even more difficult when employees are allowed to take their work – and their equipment, such as laptops – off-site with them. How will you ensure valuable company data is protected?

Lack of a solid data protection program is probably the biggest mistake companies make when it comes to allowing employees to telecommute. To avoid this problem, make sure you require your employees to sign a waiver stating that family members and friends will not have access to any company-issued equipment, including computers and software. Also make sure that the security software on company computer equipment is regularly updated. You may even want to install spyware on company equipment in order to keep an eye on your remote employees’ computer usage and to ensure they aren’t spilling trade secrets online.

Issue #3: Monitoring Overtime

When employees work off-site, it can become difficult to monitor the hours worked. But in order to ensure they don’t try to claim overtime if they haven’t worked any, it’s important that you require employees to document their hours. Again, you can install software on their computers that forces them to log in, so you can keep track of their hours. To protect yourself even further, you should also ask them to sign off on weekly or biweekly time sheets with an accurate count of their hours worked.

The most effective way to deal with all of these issues is to create a telecommuting policy, before letting any of your employees telecommute. By planning and thinking through these issues, you will be better prepared to deal with any future bumps in the road. You should also require that your remote employees sign off on the policy and fully understand the consequences of any violations.

If you have any questions about telecommuting, worker retention programs, or any other staffing-related issues, please contact Murray Resources. As one of the premier recruitment firms in Houston, we can help you develop the flexible staffing solutions you need to keep your firm running at optimum efficiency. Contact us today to get started.