Teleworkers may look forward to more flexible working hours as a benefit of telework. It allows them to schedule their days according to productive periods and personal needs. Telework schedules should be developed collaboratively between teleworkers, supervisors, and coworkers. While some positions may be bound by specific work schedules, many teleworkers and supervisors may be able to create some degree of flexibility. Key points to keep in mind include:
- Arrange teleworkers' schedules primarily to meet the business needs of the organization;
- Keep work and office coverage in mind (remember that coverage is more important than convenience); and
- Flexibility on both sides is crucial.
The telework agreement provides the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and employee about expectations. For both routine and situational (or ad hoc) telework, this discussion is important to ensure the manager and the employee understand each other’s expectations around work schedules. The telework agreement should outline:
- The terms of the telework schedule (e.g., every Monday and Friday or telework on ad hoc basis only), and what happens if the schedule needs to be changed by the manager or employee;
- Whether the hours worked will be the same as in the main office or different;
- Expectations for communication (e.g., availability by phone, email, etc); and
- A clear understanding of the procedures for schedule changes. If the teleworker is required to report to the official worksite, expectations should be clear regarding the amount of notice (if any) that should be given, and how will such notice be provided.
Unless specifically prohibited by the agency telework policy, managers should consider whether and how an employee may be able to combine workplace flexibilities to most effectively manage his/her responsibilities. For example, an employee may wish to combine telework with an alternative work schedule. The same considerations, including business needs, office coverage, and employee performance should apply.