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Print this check list to guide your telework pilot.

 

SW2000 - TELEWORKING PROJECT CHECK LIST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

Take the Plunge

 

 But reduce the risks with SW2000 !

 

 

Contents

Telework Project Check List.                                                                  2

DEFINITIONS:                                                                                                                                                          3

1. Submerged or tacit Teleworkers                                                                                                                       4

2. Financial Appraisals                                                                                                                                            6

Main Cost Centres                                                                                                                                                8

3. Mapping Radii - The Distance Factor                                                                                                             11

4. Select the Tasks                                                                                                                                                 12

5. Select the people                                                                                                                                                 13

6. Plan the Home Office or Telecentre                                                                                                               15

7. Consult the Households                                                                                                                                    16

8. Review the Contract of Employment                                                                                                                17

9. Review the Costs and Benefits                                                                                                                         19

10. Plan daily communications                                                                                                                            19

11. Target productivity                                                                                                                                          22

12. Programme dates                                                                                                                                             23

13. Review Core and Dispersed Team Expectations                                                                                         23

14. Train the Teleworkers                                                                                                                                    24

15. Train the Managers                                                                                                                                         24

16. Install the Equipment                                                                                                                                       25

17. Monitor Progress                                                                                                                                            26

18. Follow up Family Consultation                                                                                                                      27

19.  Continued Training for Teleworkers.                                                                                                        27

20.  Evaluate Results and Decide next steps                                                                                                      28

 

 

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Telework Project Check List.

 

Updated Saturday, 01 May 2004 - Copyright NCH.SW2000. Oxford 1992, with additions and changes up to Saturday, 01 May 2004. No part of this report may be reproduced or copied without the written permission of the author.

 

Disclaimer.

While every effort has been made to provide accurate and comprehensive information, these recommendations and check-lists are not claimed to be a complete and definitive set of recommendations and lists for the purpose of setting up a teleworker pilot project. The authors disclaim any liability for the application of any part or the whole of this report.

 

Sources

Compiled from regular Teleworker workshops held between 1983 and 1987 for professionals leaving major organisations to work at home; from practical experience of operating a home-based professional team; from seminars and workshops on Flexible Working Contracts for managers from major employers between 1988 and 1998; from UK and USA studies of existing and proposed pilot projects and from research for SW2000 reports, publications and books including Teleworking Explained, Wiley & Sons, Nov. 1993 and The Economics of Teleworking 1994; and from working with large employers from 1994 to 2000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEEDBACK:

 

Teleworking is still a relatively new phenomenon and standard works on it are being drawn from the experience of employers, employees and the self-employed.  In this changing arena of information SW2000 welcomes suggestions for additions, deletions and improvements to this Check-List.

 

This document is copyrighted; copies of the document are available from SW2000.

 

USING THIS DOCUMENT:

 

We suggest you review the whole document and note its contents before working through it from Section 1 to Section 20 in the order presented.  The Check-List may be retained for the full time span of the pilot project and referred to throughout.

 

Make a 20 Section production plan:

 

To co-ordinate timing, set out a time period progress chart using the 20 section headings below on the vertical axis and dates on the horizontal axis. Map out the perceived start and finish time for each section.  The training sections, numbers 14 and 15 are likely to occupy the longest stretches of time.  The preparations can be completed in six months or less.

 

DEFINITIONS:

 

Teleworking - Using advanced communications, the telephone network and peripheral equipment to communicate with colleagues, reducing commuting time, travelling time and costs and central office costs.

 

Major Employer - An organisation of 500 or more people. There are circa 23,000 USA and 7,000 such organisations in the UK employing some 40% of the working population.

 

Core Team - The people located at central office/s.

 

Dispersed Team - The teleworkers. People located at home, at telecentres or telecottages, who are mobile or who mainly work at customers’ or clients’ premises.

 

Deliverables - The work output expected from teleworkers and delivered by E-Mail, Fax, Post, Courier or in person to employers.

 

Effectiveness - Productivity x unit costs x quality x motivation.

 

Home/Remote Office - A telecommuter’s office at home or close to the home, reducing commuting to central office.

 

Telecentre - A building, usually close to teleworkers’ homes, providing work stations. May be shared by organisations.

 

Telecottage - A rural telecentre. Often with computer training facilities.

 

Family - The members of a household shared with a teleworker.

 

Spouse - Husband, Wife, Common Law husband or wife,  Partner living with a teleworker.

 

1. Submerged or tacit Teleworkers

 

Surveys show that occasional home working is commonplace but in the absence of an official policy the total number of days teleworked may be tacitly suppressed.

 

1.1   Survey your organisation for existing examples of teleworking or homeworking.  50% of jobs are thought to be suitable for teleworking.

 

1.2    Compile submerged teleworking information by conducting a telework-audit (Disks available from Telework Analytics):

 

Anonymous questionnaires completed by all personnel         

 

or: 

 

Identified questionnaires starting with senior people, publishing results and working down through the organisation. 

 

1.3  Key questions:

 

Include the following: 

 

In the last twelve months how many days have you worked away from your office desk? 

               a) At Home

               b) On business trips

               c) Elsewhere

 

In your view was the time spent ? 

               a) More efficiently

               b) Less efficiently

 

Of the days worked away from your desk what percentage was due to  ?

            

    a)  Commuting difficulties

    b)  Unwell but not ill

    c)  To avoid office interruptions

    d)  Family requirements

    e)  Other

 

Do you have office equipment at home ?

             a)  Computer

             b)  Printer            

             c)  Modem

             d)  Additional Phone line/s

             e)  Fax   

             f)  Copier

             g)  Other

 

1.4  Analyse the information to identify

           

            a) The number of person/desk/days when desks are unoccupied.

            (Dr Becker, Cornell, found 40% of desks empty on any working day)

 

            b) The number of people who sometimes work at home/remotely.

           

            c) Initiatives taken to equip home/remote offices.

           

            d) People who adapt to remote working efficiently.

           

            e) Type of tasks undertaken at home/ remotely.

           

            f) Distance and travel time of remote     work from central office.

 

SW2000 custom design forms for your organisation and will make the analysis.

 

1.4.a  Telework Audits

 

Telework Analytics International, based near Washington USA, has offered, since 1994, Telework-Audits using extensive questionnaires, originated by SW2000, for completion by all personnel or by a sample of personnel.  The output, specified and formulated by SW2000 in EXCEL, gives an analysis of the business factors for the organisation and for each respondent.  It also summarises attitudinal information and identifies those for and against teleworking at all levels.  The output analyses the practicability of respondents working at or from home and lists the equipment they have and believe they will need. Telework-Audits are described as providing a "fast-track" route to forming an organisation's formal telework policy, short-circuiting the need for pilot programmes and long term monitoring.  Contact via SW2000, Oxford UK - Noel Hodson - +44 (0)1865 60994 or fax +44(0)1865 64520. Email noelhodson@btconnect.com

 

1.5 Use the information gathered to consider whether:

           

            a)  Occasional home/remote working    should be recognised.

           

            b)  Office space can be reduced.

           

            c)  Employers contributions to commuting costs can be reduced.

           

            d) Sufficient tacit teleworking activity exists to evaluate as a pilot project            study.

2. Financial Appraisals

 

SW2000's Report "The Economics of Teleworking" March 1992, (updated June 1994) demonstrated that in most cases teleworking is profitable for Employers, Employees, Nationally, and Environmentally. Cases can occur where teleworking adds costs.

 

2.1   Costs and Benefits to the Employer

 

Case-studies were published in the Economics of Teleworking which have been tailored to many organisation and pilot projects.  Other case studies from the UK and the USA are set out in Teleworking Explained, Wiley & Sons, Nov 1993. One of the authors of that book, Gil Gordon, has now (2001) published his seminal work, Turn it Off, that encourages sane and thoughtful applications of modern communications in the work-place. The questionnaires and formulas to produce Costs/Benefits; Personal Benefits; Environmental Impact; and National effects are updated regularly and are available from SW2000.

 

2.2  Productive time values must be applied.

 

The average contribution of a UK employee is circa £35 per hour (USA $60 or TOP 100 Fortune Companies $124 per person-hour) productively worked.  The following example, with kind permission from John Waddington PLC, can be tailored to suit:

 

2.3 Productive Time Values

 

Most city centre professionals contribute far more per hour to their organisations turnover than the UK average of £35 per productive hour per head. The gross receipts of any organisation are its Turnover, whether it is a business or a grant supported organisation. The Law Society assumes members recover 1,100 productive hours per annum. For City of London financial firms it is not uncommon for Turnover divided by the number of personnel to exceed £200 per productive hour, per head. 

 

2.4  Contributions to Turnover – Because I’m Worth It.

 

This can be calculated by dividing the gross annual receipts by the number of personnel to find the average contribution to turnover per head, then dividing by 1,100 productive hours, or whatever number of productive hours is appropriate for the organisation, to give the hourly contribution to annual turnover per person per annum.  This can be weighted by salary differentials. 

 

For this calculation, whatever your organisation produces or services, all materials or products values can be included in the contribution per person hour calculation, as in the example below, except in the case of a pure buying and selling trading company where no significant processes, akin to manufacturing, are applied to the goods before resale. 

 

For wholesale trading take the gross trading profit as the turnover, then divide by the number of personnel thus [ Total Sales of goods -less- Total Purchases of goods = £0000 Gross profit /divide by average number employed in the year or period]

 

2.5 Apart from low staff, trading operations, all other organisations can apply the formula:

 

[ Turnover or Total Receipts for the year or period /divide by the average number employed in the year or period = annual (or adjust period) contribution per head per annum = £ contribution per head per annum /divide by average productive hours worked each year = £ per hour earned for the organisation ]

 

2.6 The information is available in the public Annual Report; 

 e.g.  John Waddington  PLC, security printers, printers, packaging, games manufacturers, for the year ended 31 March 1991 -  Turnover £227,602,000 or £227.6 million.  Note 3 shows average number employed was 3,806 people.  Divide to give = £59,895 per head contribution to turnover.  Hours worked say - 48 weeks x 40 hours = 1,920 hours a year; less average UK sick leave 18 days x 8 hours = 144 hours and less average slack or workplace gossip time, say - 20% or 384 hours, leaves 1920 - 144 - 384 = 1392 productive hours, divided into £59,895 = £43 per hour. 

 

2.7  This shows John Waddington PLC

is more efficient than the average UK manufacturing company (£35 per hour) and at £43 per hour per person contribution to turnover, is probably profitable. The reported pre-tax profit for that year was £16 million; or £4,203 per year per employee.  Conversely, lost productive hours cost the company £43 per hour, assuming the people they employ are employed to good purpose. 

 

Substitute your own organisations figures in the example above. Loading for high and low paid personnel can be calculated starting with average cost of employment per annum and working up and down the scale. 

 

e.g. BT Turnover 1993 £13,200,000; divide by employees 170,000 gives ACGTR (average contribution to gross revenue) £77,647; divide by 1,800 work hours gives £43.13 per hour. Reduce hours by estimated slack time 20% leaves 1,440 hours, gives ACTGR of £53.92 per person hour.

 

SW2000 will create customised COST/BENEFIT and PRODUCTIVE TIME VALUE forms tailored to your organisation.

 

2.8  Commuting costs.

One of the three largest areas for savings.  When calculating costs it is not necessary initially to differentiate for wholly employed personnel between costs borne directly by the employer and those paid by the employee.  The employer pays all the costs whether directly or indirectly via the salary structure. First  collate all costs, then review the method of payment.

 

Main Cost Centres

 

2.9 Exceptional Costs of Change

 

New Equipment

Management Time x £35 hour

Productivity Dive x £35 hour

External Consultants

Less: Value of retaining trained personnel.

 

Amortize (spread) over 5 years

 

2.10 Annual Office Costs saved/incurred

 

Central Office

Rent saved

Rates saved

Secretariat space saved

Heat, Light and Power saved

Building Maintenance saved

Garage/Parking saved

Buildings Insurance and Security saved

Recreational facilities saved

Sick Building Syndrome: lost hours x £35

Uniforms & Clothing allowance

 

Adjust:

Home/Remote Offices costs

Rent, Heat & Light

 

2.11 Employers Commuting Costs saved

 

Cars (capital & interest)

Running Costs

Season Tickets

Commuting Disruptions: hours lost x £35

 

2.12  Operating costs saved/incurred

 

Teleworkers salaries, benefits, fees

Secretarial and assistants salaries

Managers time x £35 hour - less or more

Colleagues time x £35 hour- less or more

London loading, weighting or supplement

Annual Maintenance of equipment

Telephone call charges

Office Contents and 3rd Party Insurance

Canteen - Tea, Coffee, lunches.

 

NB. Exclude management time spent measuring and reporting on the pilot project to avoid distortion.

 

2.13 Productivity

 

Additional productive hours, for example by starting earlier and finishing later, using time saved from the commute, and working outside normal hours.  On average, an increase in the work completed, the "deliverables" can be expected and should be measured here.  Most teleworkers achieve an effortless increase in productivity by saving commuting time. EG each hour per day spent commuting equals 30 working days a year. A four-hour per day commute absorbs 120 work days of time, equal to half a work year.

 

2.14.  Total costs/savings for the employer.

 

In the case of a small pilot project where re-use of space is not possible and where no changes to the employers contributions to cars and/or commuting costs are made, the major savings are reduced substantially.  Scale up the costings exercise to at least 100 teleworkers, enabling re-use of office space and other savings. Most pilot projects for small numbers of teleworkers will show immediate productivity increases.

 

2.15 Individual costs/benefits

 

Each new teleworker will gain or lose cash depending on the changes in the level of contributions from the employer to:

        a) Commuting Costs

        b) Home/Remote Office Costs

        c) Canteen and Tea and Coffee Costs

        d) Clothing or Uniform allowances

        e) Permitted personal use of office supplies

        f) Permitted personal use of equipment

 

Issue individual forms to each teleworker to be completed and returned.  An average calculation may show a saving in cash of circa £750 per annum.  Numerous 1993/2000 calculations for individuals show £1,000 to £4,000 cash benefits per annum, after adjusting all work related costs. The individuals also save their commuting time.  The increased take-home-pay and the reduced hours together give an increased rate of net earnings per hour worked or commuted of 50% or more in almost all cases regardless of salary level.

 

2.16  Individual time, leisure and health benefits:

 

A major personal benefit of teleworking is the release of commuting time.  This time has a monetary value which SW2000 defines as the rate per hour which in theory the individual could earn instead of pursuing leisure activities (eg. by having a second job.) For a £25,000/ 1888 hours p.a. job, the rate is £13.24.

 

These should be calculated for and by each proposed teleworker to include:

 

       a)  Commuting time saved.

       b)  Sick leave in the previous 12 months.

       c)  Precise commuting distance per journey and per annum.

 

The sick leave figures will act as a base for future comparisons.

 

2.17 Productivity, Efficiency, Effectiveness (deliverables x unit cost x quality x motivation)

 

The single largest benefit for the organisation can be in the increase of work (deliverables) at reduced employment costs.  Set up a method of measuring those deliverables for both Dispersed Team and equivalent Core Team members.

 

Measuring deliverables is beyond the scope of this Check list but guidance notes are available from SW2000.  Your internal cost accountants may have formulas available.

 

2.18  Effects on Productivity:      

 

Measure before the Pilot Project commences and monitor both Core and Dispersed Team on the same criteria.

         

a) Monitor the increase or decrease in deliverables

         

b) Calculate the increase/decrease in employment costs when  reduced office and commuting  costs are known.

         

c) Calculate the profit per employee by placing a unit value on deliverables and deducting employment costs.

 

2.19 The objective of measuring is to be able to make a calculation as is shown in  simplified form here:

             e.g. Average Week from one year’s monitoring:

 

                             

2.20  National Economic Impact. 

 

Teleworking has a national effect on the economy and you may be concerned to calculate the part your organisation is contributing to the national picture.  SW2000 have guidance calculations.

 

2.21  Environmental Economics. 

 

The environmental benefits of your teleworking project should be included in your organisations Environmental Statement, usually made in the Annual Report.  SW2000 have guidance calculations.

 

For example; each gallon of fuel burnt makes 1,800 gallons of exhaust gas at sea level at average ambient temperature. This can be taken as the street-level effect of fuel. (source British Gas).  There are over 3 million UK citizens out of 57 million (5.3%) who suffer breathing disorders including asthma.

 

3. Mapping Radii - The Distance Factor

 

There is no theoretical distance limitation to teleworking but in most organisations boundaries are drawn at an average distance of 70 miles.  Start with a map, preferably not coloured, of your commuting area.

 

3.1  Discuss telecommunication, postal/mail and parcel links over distances with your telecoms manager and other experts.

 

3.2  Decide the central office attendance schedule for all teleworkers.  SW2000 recommend once a week attendance including training programmes. 

 

3.3  Decide the  dispersed team managers visiting home and remote offices schedule.  SW2000 recommend at least 2 manager-visits a year.

 

3.4  Examine the customer and colleague locations in relationship to central office and proposed teleworker locations.

 

Consider possible meetings at the teleworkers’ locations and the travelling arrangements involved.

 

3.5  Commuting Time and Costs:

 

Use the information to specify initial distance limitations for different types of work. In principle the more physical presence meetings required, the closer to central office the teleworker radius should be.  Distance is not the primary factor; commuting time and costs are the most vital.

 

3.6  Example. 

Several New York Insurance companies fly paperwork daily to Southern Ireland where wholly employed clerks process it and turn it round by electronic communications as efficiently as can be achieved in New York.

 

3.7  Example. 

A central London institution employs teleworking executive professionals handling sensitive, substantial paper reports at distances of up to and exceeding 100 miles. 

 

3.8  Consider the transport of regular supplies,  often heavy paper and files,  to and from the teleworkers.  Look at your organisation's transport facilities and routes.

 

3.9  Cost the potential transport and commuting for proposed teleworkers and compare it with the existing routines.  In general, people cost more to transport than paper or goods.  Calculate all the costs irrespective of whether they are met directly by the employer or by the employee.

 

3.10 Make a colour coded map:  

 

Apply different colours to different teleworking tasks using the above information. It will not usually result in regular radii or circles as these are  distorted by poor or good commuting links to central office. 

 

3.11  Change the map as the pilot project develops, as managers,  colleagues, customers and suppliers may alter their transport schedules as the teleworker locations become familiar.

 

4. Select the Tasks

 

A pilot project may include a range of activities but these makes measurements more complex. SW2000 recommends one category, with a control sample of equivalent Core Team members.

 

4.1 Decide if the teleworkers will be:

 

full time (eg. visiting central office once a week or so) : or

 

part time (eg. two days at home, three days at central office).

 

4.2 Most desk work may be teleworked, including:

 

Clerical Processing

Design

Internal Audit

Internal Legal

Costing

Accounting

Research

Report Writing

Telephone Selling

Mobile Selling

Personnel Records

Typing

 

4.3 Confidential Work:

 

Some tasks require access to secure information, increasing the equipment specification.  For example, Inland Revenue HM Inspectors, if remote working, would require access to law libraries, perhaps on data-base, and to highly confidential files. 

 

Security of voice, data and visual transmissions is possible with available equipment (Lektor range, BT). Lombard North Central said of their home telework bases ".. transmission is now considered to be as effective as at any other company location".  Detailed advice in 'Teleworking Explained' - Wileys 1993 and in ITAC’s Ework Guide 2000.

 

Mark those categories where security applies and take advice on encryption and access codes. Beware of importing computer viruses by using "sheep dip" checks on disks.

 

5. Select the people

 

For the pilot project to succeed, the initial teleworking pioneers are vital.

 

5.1  Ask for volunteers, do not oblige people to leave the Core Team

 

5.2  Do Not rely on volunteers making good teleworkers.  Some 30%  find they do not enjoy it.

 

5.3  Psychological Testing: 

 

No psychometric tests have yet ( 01 May 2004) been made  available in the UK or USA but several organisations claim the ability to select suitable candidates from volunteers. SW2000 will contact them for you.

 

5.4 Returning to central office:

 

Make it clear that volunteers for dispersed working will be able to rejoin the core team if they wish.  A suitable period of notice should be negotiated. See Union guidelines in section 8 below.

 

5.5  Give each candidate a list of potential problems to discuss with their families, including:

 

a) Isolation

b) Difficulty establishing work routines

c) Loss of colleagues assistance

d) Loss of office social life

e) Trapped in the home

f) Poor home office accommodation

g) Intrusive family

h) Intrusive neighbours and friends

i) Intrusive pets

j) Inadequate meetings facilities

k) Involved in trivia - No junior support

l) Fear of losing promotion opportunities

m) Fear of missing training opportunities

n) Resenting managers visits

o) Reduced access to information

p) Fear of becoming a piece worker

q) Fear of it being a step to redundancy

r) Concerns about landlords and bye-laws

s) Fear of damaging company equipment

t) Danger to children from electronics

 

Ensure the volunteers and their families consider these anxieties and deal with them if necessary by amending the contract of employment. See Section 8 below.

 

5.6  Suitable Candidates: 

 

Having tested the volunteers resolve to telework, test if they are suitable for the task.

 

a) Have they teleworked before in your employment (see Section 1 above).

 

b) Have they established an office at home/remotely  (see Section 1 above).

 

c)  Have they studied for examinations or written a thesis or taken similar initiatives without close supervision in the past.

 

d)  Do their line managers consider them suitable for remote working.

 

e)  Do they have sufficient experience of the work to not require constant support.

 

f) Have they sufficiently absorbed the culture of your organisation to continue to conform to your standards and style.

 

g) Are they prone to depression; teleworking would almost certainly increase the tendency.

 

h) Are they punctual in the mornings. Non-punctual people may find waking up for teleworking a problem.

 

i)  Are they supported at home or in the remote office. 

 

j)  Does the type of work they do involve regular, hour by hour,  results which are visible.  Regular reports or necessary customer or colleague contact can balance depressive  or unpunctual tendencies.    

 

k) Are they skilled communications equipment operators; if not, will they benefit from extra training.

 

l) Few employers seem prepared to recruit teleworkers from outside their organisations, which may indicate a perceived risk in doing so.

 

5.7  Factors raised at workshops which seem to have little or no bearing on individual suitability include:

 

a) Age

 

b) Introvert/extrovert

 

c) Tidiness

 

d) Family size

 

5.8  Having made the initial selection advise candidates final selection is subject to further criteria:

 

a)  Agreed Contract

b) Suitable home or remote office space

c)  For a trial period. SW2000 suggest 12         months

 

6. Plan the Home Office or Telecentre

 

Many architects and office furnishers will advise on use of space, ergonomics and furniture.  Most teleworkers need advice and assistance to create an efficient work station. It pays employers to approve the designs.  Ms Santa Raymond DIP. ARCH. RIBA, London W11, specialises in this field.

 

Existing designs:  There are increasing numbers of suppliers of custom designed desks for home teleworkers. These take into account limited space, vulnerable electronics, wire management, protection from and for children and pets and confidential file storage. Many newspapers and magazines carry advertisements for suitable desks and ancillaries.

 

6.1  Consult your Telecoms Manager on compatibility with central office equipment. 

 

6.2  Consider relocating existing furniture and equipment from central office.

 

6.3  Provide central office facilities.

 

The teleworkers will require working space and equipment at central office on the days they attend.  Some employers, such as IBM and DEC, pioneered mobile document lockers, time shared desks and coffee lounge conversation areas, taking minimum space and saving 25% of floor area.

 

6.4 Provide Stationery. 

 

A package of desk-top items including paper clips etc. and stationery are required to avoid time wasting delays. Provincial areas may be poorly served by office stationers.

 

6.5 Corporate Theme.

 

Consider creating a corporate theme for home offices. Most teleworkers require a well defined boundary between home and office to help the transition from personal to work time.

 

6.6 Advise on Location. 

 

Location of a home office is a personal choice but can be disruptive if a wrong choice leads to relocation.  Matters to consider include:

 

a)  Sockets for telephones and power.

b)  Wiring safety.

c)  Good (day)light and lighting.

d)  Confidential Desk Top (to stop items from being seen by casual visitors).

c)  Freedom from intrusions

d)  Answering the door and the telephone simultaneously

e)  Majority opt for a spare bedroom

f)  Spare bedrooms can be very isolated

g)  Parents and carers seem to prefer being in the living area 

h)  Long term teleworkers convert the garage, loft or build an extension or garden     room (cost, est. £80 per sq. foot - £800 per sq. metre for ).

i)  Some need space for a colleague

j)  All need shelves and storage 

 

6.7  A typical home office requires:

 

a) Desk

b) 2 Chairs

c) Filing cabinet/drawers with locks

d) Shelving

e) Extra telephone line/s

f) Telephone services

g) Personal Computer

h) Modem/ISDN etc. for E-Mail

i) Fax with copier capability

j) Ansaphone

k) Cordless Phone

l) Stationery pack (from report folders to staples and rubber bands)

 

120 square feet or 12 square metres is the average UK central office space per person, including common circulation areas.

 

In 1992 Nat-West Bank budgeted £3,500 per teleworker for home office equipment at December 1991 prices. Today the same office equipment could be bought for £1,000. Also consider renting equipment.

 

7. Consult the Households

 

Consulting the families is a sensible precaution.  SW2000 recommend groups of circa 20 people, being teleworkers, their spouses or partners and children of school age, in workshops to discuss an agenda including:

 

a) Territorial rights by weekday

                      by night

                      by weekends

 

b) Home office location

 

c) Business visitors

 

d) Answering business calls

 

e) Using the company car

 

f) Using company equipment

 

g) Procedure for teleworker sickness

 

h) Need for confidentiality

 

i) Family Chores (use commuting time)

 

j) Interrupting the teleworker

 

See Section 18 for follow up counselling

 

Teleworking Explained, Wiley and Sons, Nov. 1993, carries 3 case studies on families starting teleworking, written by a Tavistock trained marital psychotherapist. Search the WEB for “Bringing Home the Electronic Baby” by Pauline Hodson. Pauline has written several papers that are published on the WEB.

 

8. Review the Contract of Employment

 

The contract needs revision for both employer and employee and for Trade Unions.

 

8.1 The employers’ responsibilities which will be affected include:

 

a) Union guidelines - few comprehensive policy statements are available. Unions have expressed concern about home working becoming sweat-shop labour or piece work; though few examples of this occurring have emerged in the UK or USA but the EC is concerned about possible exploitation in developing countries (ask SW2000 for details of Global New Deal).  Consult your Union representative.

 

A composite list of USA and UK union concerns/demands include:-

1. Equal pay and benefits.

2. Two days a week at central office.

3. Managers visits restricted to twice a month.

4. Proper equipment & all expenses repaid.

5. Equal promotion, information & training with Union contact numbers on TWs screens.

6. Limitations on monitoring TWs.

7. No preferential treatment for TWs.

8. Extra training on communications equipment.

9. TWs drawn only from central office. No external new TWs recruited.

10. No conversion to self-employed status.

11. All TWs to be volunteers.

12. Automatic right to return to central office.

13. Workstation in separate room in house.

14. Regular meetings between TWs and between TWs and core team members.

15. Right to use equipment to talk to colleagues.

16. Specified 'mentor' manager for each teleworker.

17. Health & Safety Officer visits & reports. TWs representation on H & S committees.

18. Union access to TWs via electronic networks

19. A homeworker inspectorate.

20. Rights for teleworkers to know central office members pay rates.

21. Right of refusal to work from home.

 

b) Health and Safety at Work -  the employer must take all reasonable precautions to prevent employee and third party injuries, including repetitive-strain-injuries, which may be affected by office design.  Few published cases of a teleworker suing an employer have occurred in the UK or the USA.  Consult your health and safety officer. Designers of ergonomic computer keyboards tend to have current information.

 

NB.  RSI, Repetitive Stress Injury, is being taken up by the TUC as a serious industrial injury. The TUC is liasing with its counterparts in the European Union.

 

c) Insurance - Personal Injury and Equipment and Goods in Transit insurances need to be extended to include the home office and car. Most insurers extend policies with no extra cost.  Consult your insurance brokers.

 

d) Access - for maintenance, replacement or recovery of employers equipment. Consult your lawyers.

 

e) Exclusive services - to restrict moonlighting.

 

8.2 Teleworkers contractual variations could include:

 

a) Place/s of Work

b) Working Hours

c) Responsible for equipment

d) Responsible for documents

e) Access to managers, customers and suppliers.

f) Requirement to attend central offices

g) Promotional rights

h) Training rights

i) Household's using employers equipment

j) Right to return to Core Team

k) Payments for heat, light, telephone, wear and tear (or a "rent")

l) Communication responses

 

8.3  New Contracts:

 

No examples of new, complete contracts for teleworkers have been made available to SW2000. Most employers in the UK and the USA issue a brief variation to the existing contract. 

 

A sample of variations clauses is available from SW2000.

 

9. Review the benefits

 

At this stage you have dealt with:

 

Section 1.  Submerged Teleworking

   "    2.  Financial Appraisals

   "    3.  Mapped the Area

   "    4.  Selected Tasks    

   "    5.  Selected People

   "    6.  Designed the Offices

   "    7.  Consulted Families

   "    8.  Employment Contract & Unions

 

Obstacles to the pilot project may have arisen which make the plan unworkable for your organisation. If not then proceed as set out below.

 

9. Review the Costs and Benefits

 

9.1  Review the perceived costs and benefits of the pilot project for:

 

a)  The Employer

b)  The Employees

c)  The National effects

d)  The Environmental effects 

 

9.2  Commit to the project and authorise the contracts of employment.

 

10. Plan daily communications

 

Detailed planning of daily procedures  ensure that close management is applied to the dispersed workforce,  easing their transition from the central office environment and reassuring the Core Team managers.

 

10.1  Detailed and highly structured procedures for a teleworking pilot project were drawn and applied by BT for their Directory Enquiries Operators back in 1993.  These 10 home based operators were provided with touch screen or keyboard guidance to all conceivable contingencies, including leaving their posts for a comfort break.  Through their personal computers they had instant access to a supervisor by video phone, access to other teleworkers and access to central office colleagues. They also had access to a substantial data base - the national telephone directories.

 

Since 1993 there have been hundreds of major employers who have introduced telework but none to date (01 May 2004) with the same commitment to intercative-video-communications between the teleworkers and from the dispersed (teleworkers) to the core (at head office) teams.

 

10.2  Build up a daily routine of contacts, particularly between teleworkers and  their managers.  These could include:

 

Daily

 

a) Logging on at start - voice communication

 

b) Logging off at end - voice communication

 

c) Manager calling in once at random

 

d) Teleworker calling in at lunchbreak

 

e) Teleworker transmitting work daily by fax or E-Mail or Post.

 

f) Teleworkers schedule to speak to each other - one call per day minimum

 

g) Core Team colleague calling Teleworker       schedule - one call per day minimum

 

Other times

 

h) Calling in sick

 

i) Calling in for emergencies

 

Face to Face

 

k) Attending central office - once a week or fortnight including training.

 

l) Managers visits to the remote office.

 

m) Colleagues visits to the remote office.

 

n) Customers/Suppliers visits to the remote office.

 

o) Service engineers visits to the remote office.

 

Plan the above schedules with the proposed teleworkers with the objectives of:

 

i)   avoiding isolation

 

ii)  supplying information

 

iii) providing expertise

 

iv)  maintaining corporate identity.

 

10.3  Security and confidentiality

 

A vital issue for some teleworked tasks which requires planning. Consult your security manager.

 

Matters to consider include:

 

a) Use and control of Corporate printed stationery.

 

b) Use and control of Corporate files and information both paper and electronic

 

c) Security of transmissions - scramblers

 

d) Access to central computers

 

e) Access to Corporate networks

 

f) Introduction of computer viruses via unauthorised discs - check where all discs come from.

 

g) System failure back-up; Stand-by equipment, Postal and Courier services.

 

h) Desk-Top security. Protecting documents and screens from casual callers.

 

i) Fire security. Fire proof cabinets and safes and procedures to use them.

 

j) Waste disposal procedures for paper and computer discs.

 

k) Casual gossip. The lunchtime pub syndrome.

 

l) Family forgetfulness. Careless remarks to 3rd parties.

 

m)  Papers and computer discs in cars.

 

n)  Burglary - secure windows etc.

 

o) Holiday periods - store sensitive papers and discs at head office.   

 

 

Proper procedures will deal with the above. Initially reminder calls may be required at the end of each working day to ensure that papers and discs have been put away securely.

 

10.4  Security issues for the teleworker and family include:

 

a) Use of equipment by family, friends and neighbours is an obvious security risk.  Most organisations forbid 3rd party use but where there is no perceptible security problem SW2000 recommend charging 3rd parties at office bureau rates.

 

Decide who retains any proceeds from such charges.

 

b) Electrical equipment, which today includes most desk top machines including sophisticated telephones, must be secure from children and pets to avoid accidents to either the people and pets or to the equipment.   Ensure good wire management and consider lockable storage.  Install away from water supplies.

 

 

11. Target productivity

 

One of the major benefits to employers from teleworking is the generally reported increase in production of deliverables.  However, there are reports of productivity dives/decreases from new teleworkers.  Such dives in output are more likely where the teleworker requires long periods of uninterrupted concentration to deliver results at long intervals of time.

 

11.1  Make targets with and for all teleworkers of all grades:

 

a)  Ensure the communication schedules are operated.

 

b)  In the first period (three months) ensure that daily or twice daily reports are made by the teleworkers until good habits are established.

 

c)  Work-in-Progress. For long time duration reports, ensure that "looking over the shoulder" conditions which exist in central offices, are maintained. E-Mail or Fax makes interim reporting simple and inexpensive.

 

d)  Encourage teleworkers to report at draft stages without extensive (time consuming) editing. This is initially difficult for most teleworkers who would not usually submit a rough draft to a manager.  The objective is for the manager to see that work is proceeding and not to prematurely criticise the work.

 

e)  Punctuality problems, disorientation and depression can afflict some new teleworkers, contributing to productivity dives. Managers should increase communications until normal working is achieved. The first 30 working days are the most crucial for establishing good working practices.

 

f)  If normal output is not established within 30 working days it is likely that the individual is not suitable for teleworking; or, less likely, that the work is not suitable.

 

g)  The majority of teleworkers do increase output of deliverables which, when multiplied by the lower costs of employment which can accompany teleworking,  gives a productivity increase which can be calculated. (See 2.19 for example).  Such calculations may be complex and should take into account factors such as the re-use of central office space, longer periods between company car renewals, depreciation of equipment - compared to central office equipment, and the employers contributions to commuting.

 

h) It is reasonable to expect an increase in deliverables of circa 20% after the settling in period (say 30 working days) has elapsed.  This can only be measured if measurements have been made prior to the project commencing, to give a base line.(see Section 2.18 above)

 

SW2000 design customised forms to assist the measurement of changes in deliverables and employment costs per unit of deliverables to give productivity measurements.

 

12. Programme dates

 

The point at which team members cease to commute normally and stay at home to work is potentially disruptive both to the new teleworkers, their households and to their immediate colleagues and the Core Team.  Publish the dates of change well in advance and include:

 

a)  Date/s of Commencement

b)  Numbers involved

c)  Departments affected - names

d)  Equipment to be relocated

e)  Home Contact Numbers, addresses

f)  Dates when teleworkers will attend central office

g)  Pilot Project review dates

h)  Possible date of return to Core Team

 

12.1  Inform reception and switchboard operators of the new locations and establish procedures for switching calls and post.

 

13. Review Core and Dispersed Team Expectations

 

Dislocations and misunderstandings may arise between the Core Team who remain at central office and the Dispersed Team who start to work from remote locations.

 

13.1  Teams Workshop

 

To help dispel negative reactions from both teams, whose future co-operation is vital to the success of the experiment, hold a workshop and include the following on the agenda:

 

a)  Published Dates (see 12 above)

b)  Equipment provided and usage

c)  Targeted productivity improvements

d)  Daily Communications Diary

e)  Attendances at central office

f)  Core Team (head office employees) visits to teleworkers

g)  Travelling allowances

h)  Home expenses allowances

i)  Training opportunities

j)  Promotion procedures

k)  Right to return to Core Team

l)  Expectations for the pilot project

 

14. Train the Teleworkers

 

It is beyond the scope of this check list to give advice on training procedures, SW2000 have a fully developed training package with published bullet point sheets for teleworking programmes. Managers should ensure:

 

a)  Teleworkers have considered the changes to their life style.

 

b)  Teleworkers are able to use the equipment provided.

 

c)   Teleworkers are clear as to the deliverables required of them.

 

d)   Teleworkers have consulted their families or households and have negotiated space and working conditions with them or have properly negotiated use of a local telecentre.

 

e)   Teleworkers are prepared for the psychological impact of the change.

 

f)   Teleworkers have considered the leisure and other benefits of the change and have made plans to use the "spare" time.

 

Members of ITAC, International Telework Association and Council, Washington DC; Members of WISE, Work Information Society & Employment, Vienna and individual experts such as Pauline Hodson, Marital Psychotherapist, Oxford and Tavistock Institute of Marital Studies have advised and written on this subject.

 

15. Train the Managers

 

It is beyond the scope of this check-list to advise on training managers of dispersed teams. A training programme is available from SW2000.  The following observations may be useful:

 

a)  The managers may themselves work from home or local centres or may work at the central office.

 

b)  In either case the managers are the vital link between the core (at head office) and the dispersed (the teleworkers) teams.

 

c)  Most teleworked organisations focus on deliverables to judge the value of teleworking but initially the managers need to apply precisely the same criteria as pertain in the central office.

 

d)  Managers should visit teleworkers at their remote offices as regularly as economics allow and recognise that when visiting they are in the difficult position of being both guests and managers, usually in the home of a teleworker.  It may be politic to reserve disciplinary matters to the days when the teleworker visits central office.

 

e)  All homes are different. Variations from what is "normal"  should not cloud the managers' judgement of a teleworker’s suitability or ability.  Managers should not show surprise at, comment on or gossip about domestic arrangements.

 

16. Install the Equipment

 

The most tangible evidence of commitment to the pilot project is the supply by the employer and the acceptance by the employee of the office equipment.  Ensure the equipment to be delivered is as planned - otherwise it may not fit the home office. (see Section 6 above)

 

16.1  Allow four weeks prior to Commencement Date to ensure the equipment is properly and safely connected.

 

16.2  Test the equipment on the installation day and on two subsequent separate occasions by allowing the teleworker time at home  to transmit work from and to:

   

            a) Central Office

   

            b) Other teleworkers (if networked) 

   

            c) Plug into data bases

 

16.3  Make an inventory of the equipment, signed by the teleworker.  Establish procedures to replace or recover the equipment (see legal contract at 8 above).

 

16.4  Establish legal title and if leased, advise the owners of the new location.

 

16.5   Visit to ensure efficient office layout and wire management.

 

16.6  Ensure that a stationery pack has been delivered.

 

16.7  Organise a maintenance programme   List contacts for engineers and procedures in case of equipment failure.  Spare back-up equipment may be required.

 

16.8  Check security and safety issues (see Section 10.3 above).   Fire, confidentiality, theft, water, neighbours, pets and children.

 

17. Monitor Progress

 

The pilot project must be closely monitored for evaluation purposes.  (See Section 2 above)

 

17.1  Monitor Dispersed personnel

 

a)  Ensure the Daily Communications schedule is followed.

 

b)  Create forms to log the incoming deliverables from each teleworker and compare with equivalent Core Team group.

    i) Units delivered

    ii) Days/hours sick

   iii) Days/hours lost

  

c)  Create forms to log the employment costs including all expenses allowances and compare to equivalent cost in Core Team including central office overheads.

 

d)  Create forms to log monthly reaction of new teleworkers to their work style:

     i)  Do they enjoy it

    ii)  Are they more productive

   iii)  Are they saving costs or not

    iv)  What problems do they have

    

17.2  Monitor Core Team control group.

 

Create reports to gauge the changing attitudes of the Core Team month by month to include:

           

a) Do they work efficiently with the dispersed team

    

b) Do they think the teleworkers are producing more/less work or results and by what percentage

    

c) Would they like to telework if the pilot project were to be extended permanently 

 

18. Follow up Family Consultation

 

It is useful to obtain feedback from the households of pilot project teleworkers at the halfway or two-thirds point in the year.  This can be achieved either by a detailed questionnaire or by workshops. The agenda, addressed to all members of the household, could include:

 

a)  Do they enjoy the new regime

b)  What problems do they experience

c)  Do they benefit from the teleworker’s increased leisure and family time saved by reduced commuting

d) Do they resent/welcome business visitors

e) Do they benefit from the home office equipment  (unless it is high security work it is unrealistic to assume that the equipment will not be used by some families)

f)  Do they support the teleworker by assisting with work tasks

g)  What is their impression of what the neighbours think

h)  Has it increased household costs

 

19.  Continued Training for Teleworkers.

 

Create quarterly reports to review the teleworkers skills and compare to the equivalent group in the Core Team.  Ensure that teleworkers obtain the same training as Core Team members and check whether teleworkers require additional training on equipment.

 

19.1  Multi-Skilled Teleworkers:

 

A  benefit of teleworking may be the growth of multi-skilled personnel as they are obliged to be more self-sufficient at home or telecentre than at central office.  Check the growth of skills and for its corollary - spending excessive time on trivial tasks.  Teleworkers can become poor delegators.

 

Are they delegating appropriately?

 

19.2 The Invisible Workforce:

 

One of the major anxieties of teleworkers is that of being sidelined or forgotten by the central office team.  This can be a real problem once they become "invisible workers" as the tradition of turning up for work and joining the team is very powerful.  Review teleworkers training and promotion opportunities to restore the balance and create a quarterly report to ensure this is done.

 

NB. Lombard North Central (a London UK bank) promoted two out of ten of the first teleworkers. The promoted individuals continued working at home, demonstrating that teleworkers were not overlooked or forgotten.

 

19.3 Central Office Attendances:

 

The invisible worker problem underlines the need to have the teleworkers attend central office regularly; though a proportion will object to the journey as being not valuable.  Check attendances and maintain a record.

 

 

20.  Evaluate Results and Decide next steps 

 

20.1 The evaluations include:

 

a)   Financial or direct costs and benefits.

 

b)   Productivity.

 

c)  Corporate Identity.

 

20.2   The next steps options include:

 

a)   Stopping the project

 

b)   Expanding the project locally

 

c)   Applying the project nationally

 

d) Carrying out a Telework-Audit (see 1.4.a above)

 

         ***********************

 

SW2000 DESIGNS FORMS for tasks such as measuring and monitoring. 

 

As a teleworking researcher and publisher SW2000 co-operates with experts in telecommunications, commuting systems, employment law, office security, personnel selection, personnel training, marriage and family psychologists, office design, furniture and equipment suppliers; and with Teleworking and Telecommuting consultants, advisors and academics both in the UK and the USA.  Please contact us if you require assistance with any aspect of teleworking.

 

Contact : Noel Hodson, Director, SW2000 Teleworking Studies.

 

14 Brookside, OXFORD OX3 7PJ, UK

Tel +44(0)1865 760994

Fax +44(0)1865 764520

Email:  noelhodson@btconnect.com

 

 WEB:  www.noelhodson.com