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April 1, 2013
By Beth Brooks, CAE

Telecommuting. Teleworking. Working remotely. Many organizations have been discussing this for years, but the recent announcement that Yahoo won’t allow it anymore brought it back to the forefront. While some associations do allow teleworking, I know that a lot do not. I continue to hear from members who would like that option at their workplace.

There are so many variables that come into the discussion about who can work from home and under what circumstances. Some of the discussion points deal with office culture, size of staff, type of position, seniority, performance, and how it might benefit staff and the association.

One of my biggest issues in discussing teleworking is the culture of the organization. Here at TSAE, we have a lot of members who come by our office every week for meetings so being in the office to interact with members is important to us. Many association offices rarely have members come there so that may not be an issue for them.

At TSAE, we have seven employees and we have lots of internal meetings and discussions that I think, are best done face to face. Yes, you can conference or Skype in, and we do utilize that, but being around your co-workers builds relationships and teamwork.

Unusual situations may cause you to look at teleworking a bit closer. I remember five years ago when gas prices were hovering around $4/gallon.  We had one staff member who commuted 45 minutes each way.  Telecommuting once a week would reduce stress and save money for that employee.

Another big factor is whether your job is conducive to working away from the office. We did a pilot program for staff on telecommuting a few years ago.  After a couple of months, several eligible staffers decided that for their personalities, and job responsibilities, teleworking was not for them. They just functioned so much better in the office.  One employee continues to work longer hours Monday- Thursday and then works remotely on Friday mornings and is off on Friday afternoons.  He has the uninterrupted time on Friday morning to work on articles, editing, and planning.

If you are considering teleworking, there is a sample policy below that might be helpful. As you read through this you will see that there are lots of areas that need to be thought through.

So what is your association’s policy on teleworking? Is it something your employees are asking for? You can always email me at bethbrooks@tsae.org

Sample Telecommuting Policy and Application 

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