Officially speaking, to telework is to work at any alternative location other than your central worksite, on a full or part-time basis during the time when you would normally be at the office.
Generally speaking, teleworking does not include working at home in the evenings, on weekends or over the holidays. According to Telework!VA, being self-employed and working from a home office is not considered teleworking, either.
But a lot of things are.
We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions for businesses considering creating a telework program at their company and the benefits they could realize.
*Information provided by Telework!VA
Are companies embracing telework as a commuting option for their team members and staff?
More and more companies continue to embrace all the benefits telework has to offer. In fact, while Northern Virginia is a very different environment from the Middle Peninsula in rural coastal Virginia, statistics show that the number of commuters teleworking in the metropolitan Washington region rose from 320,000 in 2004 to 600,000 in 2010, an increase of nearly 87.5%.
They found that teleworking successfully boosted employee retention, productivity and profitability.
Because of that, the numbers of those teleworking are expected to continue to grow year after year. (Source: COG 2010 State of the Commute)
Do you have to be teleworking full time for it to be considered telework?
Teleworking on a full-time basis is the exception rather than the norm. Most employees telework an average of 1.3 days per week. (Source: COG 2010 State of the Commute)
What are the benefits of a company offering a telework program or option to its staff?
A telework program can benefit an employer in a variety of ways including enhanced recruitment/retention, reduced absenteeism, increased employee satisfaction and productivity, lower real estate costs and the ability to continue operations in the event of a natural disaster or man-made emergency.
Is there any concern about losing the “team concept” once teleworking is introduced?
Not much will change since most teleworkers will still be coming to the office several days per week. Plus, when employees are teleworking, communication still takes place through phone calls, conference calls, email, instant messaging and other forms of interactive communication.
How do telework programs aid in a company’s productivity and overall competitiveness?
From a productivity standpoint, teleworkers report time-and-time again that they get more work done when working outside the office due to fewer interruptions.
In terms of organizational competitiveness, many employers report that teleworking has enabled them to attract and retain skilled employees because it provides the workplace with the flexibility they are seeking. In some cases, employers have been able to expand their “geographic reach” by hiring employees who live in other parts of the country without the need for relocation.
Is teleworking limited to only large companies?
No. Organizations of any size or sector can benefit from teleworking.
What types of jobs are suitable for teleworking?
Most “information-based” jobs are appropriate for teleworking. Teleworking is ideal for jobs that require reading, writing, research, working with data and talking on the phone. Many jobs that may not seem appropriate at first, may be modified so that the worker does the work most amenable to teleworking at home, one or two days a week. One of the secrets of designing a good telework program lies in the ability to organize specific jobs so that they can be done without constant interaction or need for feedback. Such delineation of tasks also increases productivity because it makes use of the advantages of home and other work environments to achieve peak performance.
How much does it cost to set up a teleworker?
The costs can vary depending on what is provided to the employee, but are usually less than $1,500 per person. This includes equipping a teleworker with a laptop, providing secure remote access and telephone communication capability, such as a cell phone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone, or a second-phone line. In particular, VoIP can significantly reduce long-distance charges, especially for international calls.
Generally, organizations do not provide furniture for the teleworker’s home office unless the employee is relinquishing office space. (Source: Telework Coalition, 2006 Telework Benchmarking Study)
Who is eligible to participate in the Telework!VA Tax Credit program?
Any business subject to income tax in Virginia is eligible to apply for the tax credit. Learn more about the program here.
However, employers – public and private sector – in all parts of Virginia, across the United States and beyond are welcome to take advantage of the many resources that the Telework!VA website offers.