Copyright © Noel Hodson,
SW2000 Telework Studies,
When I’m teleworking at home, how will I access COMPANY’s computer network (via the Remote Access System – RAS)? And what equipment will I have?
A1. Everything you need will be installed for you by COMPANY I.T onto a laptop/desktop computer – with an ISDN/ADSL telephone that we will provide. We will also supply an extra plug-in, separate keyboard, a laptop/desktop stand and a long-lead mouse for ergonomic purposes. See the IT section for a list of the equipment COMPANY will provide.
IT Notes: For Data-Protection purposes (data-leaks or piracy) we have discounted the idea of having a removable C-Drive (the storage disk in the laptop/desktop) as this could create more problems than it solves. At home, you need simply to plug the laptop/desktop into a telephone line (long term teleworkers will eventually need a second telephone line or a mobile phone) and plug into an electricity power socket. The system will be the same as your COMPANY workstation at central office.
You will need an Internet
connection. Some COMPANY
people have such connections via for example, FREESERVE or COMPUSERVE. For connecting to the COMPANY
Some managers travelling overseas will be supplied with an international Global Roaming Internet Service that will connect them to the COMPANY CITRIX or RAS. See the out-of-hours notes at Q4 below.
Can I put other software on the COMPANY laptop/desktop, such as Internet browsers and games?
A2. NO – please do not install any unauthorised software or create personal files on the laptop/desktop. And do not delete any COMPANY software. All the software supplied by COMPANY is properly licensed by the suppliers to COMPANY employees; unauthorised software may conflict or may not be fully licensed and cause software crashes. If COMPANY swaps your old laptop/desktop for another for maintenance, personal files will not remain private – so do not create any private files.
Notes: Some products, such as AOL’s Email CD for example, conflict with our settings; so you are advised not to put them on your laptop/desktop. There are also concerns about the data-protection act that lead to home-office equipment being restricted to business-only use. (See Q 9 and later questions below and read the Data-Protection section of this booklet). Regular breaches of these guidelines by an individual or excessive demands for support or extra costs may result in the option to telework being withdrawn.
Copyright © Noel Hodson,
SW2000 Telework Studies,
If my family or I have installed some incompatible software on the COMPANY laptop/desktop; what should I do?
A3. Make an appointment to bring the laptop/desktop to IT at CENTRAL OFFICE and we will restore the settings for you. Please don’t do it again. Telephone 1234 55 66 77 88 or from within CENTRAL OFFICE dial *4444. Regular breaches of these guidelines by an individual or excessive demands for support or extra costs may result in the option to telework being withdrawn.
I often work flexible hours at central office, e.g. from till . When I telework at home can I still decide to work flexible hours?
A4. Yes; with the agreement of your manager and the co-operation of the colleagues you have to work with, you may still elect flexible hours working.
IT SUPPORT - Note that the IT Help-Desk and Support do not provide a 24 hour service. The IT services for teleworkers are available at the same times as the service for central-office workers.
Notes: There is a debate on whether these flexi-hours must be within the core-hours as already defined for COMPANY flexible-hours arrangements. The debate is that core-hours working ensures good corporate communications, everybody is available within the same time frame/s, but a great advantage of teleworking is being able to start a task, say at and work through till say .
IT SUPPORT - Note that the IT Help-Line and Support do not provide a 24 hour service. The service for teleworkers is the same as the service for central-office workers. So if you plan to work un-social hours there will be no support. If the main servers are down for maintenance, there will be NO AUTOMATIC SAVING on the servers – you could lose all your work; so take advice on backing it up and on the other technical issues of out-of-hours working. See the Guidelines above.
When I work at home, I often share a room with my spouse or child. Are there any COMPANY rules that would stop me sharing home-office-space in this way?
A5. No. COMPANY have no reason to discourage you sharing work-space at home; providing that confidentiality of COMPANY matters and our Health and Safety, Data Protection and other COMPANYs’ responsibilities are not compromised.
From central office, I send emails and files around the COMPANY network and out to other organisations. Being in HR I also access the new HR system and my colleague in Tax has access to PAYROLL data. Can I/we do the same from home or do I need to additionally protect such E-communications?
Copyright © Noel Hodson,
SW2000 Telework Studies,
A6. Some specialist software, including PAYROLL, is not yet available to remote workers. You have no need to take extra precautions with email as once your laptop/desktop is connected to the RAS (the COMPANY network) it is as secure as your central office PC. You will be given a KEYFOB or TOKEN and/or code that opens the channel between your laptop/desktop and the COMPANY system firewall (to the RAS) and you will need to use your own passwords as usual.
In central office, IT support will send a member of the support staff to help me with a PC problem. Will the same people visit me at home if needed?
A7. NO – it is too expensive to provide IT support at employees’ homes. There is a cost and time consideration. The local Telecom or COMPANY telephone engineers may visit, by appointment.
Equipment Maintenance Notes: The most effective support method is for teleworkers to use COMPANY laptop/desktops and to bring them into central office to be re-set or repaired; usually a laptop/desktop will be repaired the same day (i.e. within 24 hours), or if there is a hardware fault, a replacement machine will be supplied the same day.
IT TRAINING - All teleworkers have an IT training session or briefing on the few differences between working at central-office and working at home. This training may become accessible on the COMPANY WEB site. The IT Help-Desk help-lines are open and should be the first option if a problem arises. Do not cart in your laptop/desktop until you have tried all other remedies – often faults can be fixed over the ‘phone. Should any visits be made, then both teleworker and visitor must abide by existing office procedures and rules of behaviour.
In central office, my
workstation meets the requirements of the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations (
A8. Read the HSE section and Forms above. Initial advice from COMPANY is provided via Self-Assessment checklists accompanied by spot visits or audits.
HSE Note: Each COMPANY home-office is subject to risk assessment to assure compliance with appropriate regulations made under the Health and safety at Work etc., Act (UK1974). COMPANY supplied electrical equipment, including plugs and connectors, is subject to statutory checks (PAT test) every year. As stated in Q1 above, the COMPANY laptop/desktop provided will also have a free-standing plug-in keyboard and a mouse. The slim laptop/desktop screen, the machine’s small size and the plug-in peripherals, together with a height adjustable stand, will enable the optimum set-up from the ergonomic and DSE perspective. COMPANY retains full responsibility, as for central office working, to ensure compliance with workplace safety regulations. Employees also share the responsibility and must be seen to be co-operative and acting intelligently.
My family and I don’t like the prospect of people calling at our house to undertake risk assessments or other checks so I will sign a legal waiver to exempt COMPANY from its HSE (health and safety) obligations as an employer. I s a waiver drafted that I can sign?
A9. NO. Sorry. In your telework agreement, you have already agreed and signed to the access COMPANY requires to make such checks and tests. On your PC screen you agree each time you log-on to COMPANY’s privacy and data protection terms.
Waiver Notes: COMPANY cannot by law give-up its responsibilities as an COMPANY. We are legally bound to do what is necessary and practicable to assure to bring teleworkers’ offices into legislative compliance. Equally, under the Data Protection Act and under the provisions of RIPA – Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, COMPANY is permitted under certain circumstances, in public bodies, to check on employees’ communications and work-data. When you are plugged into the RAS, from home or the central office, all the information you email or speak may be overheard by colleagues – and vice-versa – you may read or hear their messages. In an emergency, IT managers can access the data stored on the RAS server under your name. This does not change in the home-office system.
As a senior manager, my colleagues at central office, particularly junior colleagues, say that they “don’t like to call you when you are at home”. I assure them that when I’m working at home, that I am at work and insist that they call me; but they are still reluctant to invade my privacy. How can I get the point across?
A10. Training. This requires a cultural change and it tends to happen by evolution as teleworking grows. In the meantime urge them to call you and remind yourself to call them frequently.
Training Note: Training and education for teleworkers and their core-team colleagues will be provided to help the process of change. COMPANY may install an ISDN /ADSL business telephone line/s for each long-term COMPANY teleworker and this number will be included in the office directories. With or without a dedicated line, when you are working at home transfer your central-office calls to the home number. Also be pro-active, initiate communication with central office each day by calling-in and asking people to call you back. It is proposed that for long-term teleworkers a seamless system of call-forwarding will be adopted that is opaque to the caller.
Will I have to keep any additional records or fill in forms as a teleworker?
A11. NO. BUT in these guidelines there are FORMS for you to use when you apply for equipment and reimbursements and you will have to use these (on-screen and emailed if possible). If you anticipate ever being asked to report on,
say, your first year as a teleworker, the simplest RECORD to maintain is the First Year Teleworker’s Diary. Set-up a diary BEFORE you start teleworking, by entering your planned daily communications with COMPANY colleagues. DURING telework days the Diary has to be completed to reflect what you are doing and in particular what problems and what benefits you experience.
If I’m working out of core-hours at home, need I comply with COMPANY’s no-alcohol /drugs consumed and no-alcohol /drugs on the premises policy?
A12. Yes, and this includes all illegal drugs use. The “premises” being confined to the area of the home-office space. Because when you are working at home your home-office is a COMPANY micro-office and you may be communicating in real-time or creating communications for transmission to COMPANY employees, so in your home-office you should comply with all COMPANY work guidelines including the no-alcohol policy.
You will not be held to account if you have consumed alcohol out of hours at home and you are contacted out of hours by a COMPANY colleague. – Best advice – never answer the business phone if you’ve had an alcoholic drink.
People say that most teleworkers are more productive working at home than they are at the central office. How can this be without extra hours or more stress and will my work be monitored more than it would be at central-office?
A13. Your work will not be monitored any more closely when you telework than it is at central-office. Teleworkers tend to be more productive due to time and energy saved from commuting and due to fewer interruptions.
Will I qualify for Tax relief on my home-office costs – and if YES, then how much tax will I save?
A14. This is unlikely to apply to COMPANY teleworkers.
But for your general information tax issues in the
Tax Note: In other organisations an average full-time (5 days a week) teleworker, based mostly at home, can see a reduction of about $300US to their tax bill.
I’ve heard that the Internal Revenue/ Inland Revenue tax the profits in a home-office under Capital Gains Tax regulations when you sell your house. Is this true?
A15. YES and NO. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) theoretically applies to the part of a house that has been successfully claimed (see Q14 above) as an office for income tax relief purposes. But for all practical purposes the CGT is not usually levied as the CGT assessment requires “exclusive use” of the space. This is unlikely to apply to COMPANY teleworkers.
CGT Note: Few home-workers claim exclusive use. In the exceptional circumstances where an assessment is raised, Roll-Over-Relief can carry CGT tax forward to the next home and so on – but only if the space is formally recognised by the Inland Revenue as a business-asset. Where/If an assessment is raised it will be on a Time and Space used formula (the office as a proportion of the space in the house for a period of months as a proportion of the time owned). Where an assessment becomes a CGT bill to be paid, the owners of the house can first claim their annual CGT exemption/s (about £6,000 CGT profit each).
My lawyer tells me that I will become responsible under the data-protection act for any information, paper or electronic, that accidentally or deliberately leaks from my home-office. Can I be sued for such data-leaks?
A16. YOU ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE LIABLE - COMPANY is your employer and is fully aware of the provisions of the Data Protection Act and COMPANY complies with the act. As a teleworker you are little more likely to breach the act than any other employee. Provided you follow these guidelines you are not at particular risk under the act. COMPANY is insured for civil liabilities arising from inadvertent breaches of the Act.
Article 8 of the EU Human
Rights Act seeks to protect the privacy of individuals. employers are
generally prevented from monitoring employees’ communications. BUT, for
business and practical purposes there are exceptions to the no-monitoring
rule. For example, the
When you log-on to the COMPANY RAS system the opening screen that you tick is giving your authority to COMPANY to have the option of monitoring your communications on the COMPANY RAS system.
The COMPANY is primarily responsible under the Data-Protection Act.
If an employee is negligent or deliberately breaches the act, both COMPANY and the employee will be liable to face criminal charges. Any fine levied on an employee will be that employee’s own responsibility but COMPANY may, where it is deemed appropriate, agree to pay or contribute to legal fees incurred in defending the charge. Breaches of the Data-Protection Act are criminal offences.
Note that it is not possible to insure against your own criminal acts.
I have read the Data-Protection section in this booklet and it does seem to conclude that I might be legally responsible for leaks of COMPANY data. What are the main actions I should take to limit the/my risk?
A17. The advice given in theses guidelines can be summarised as:
First – Lock Up. Always operate a clear-desk policy, as applies at central office. This means putting away all paper, into lockable filing cabinets, and always locking your computer if you leave the room for a short time and switching off your computer (requiring passwords to reconnect it) if you leave the room for a longer period. Always disconnect from the COMPANY RAS when you leave the room.
Second – Your Negligence. COMPANY fulfils its obligations under the Data-Protection Act but if a leak occurs through your culpable negligence or deliberate action you may be personally liable (see A16 above).
Notes: Make sure your home insurance covers any extra risk inherent in having valuable equipment in your home. Note that COMPANY insurance policies do extend to all COMPANY workplaces, including homes. COMPANY carries business & company information in its systems, such as personnel files, and some of the data can reside on laptop/desktops, disks and other mobile media. The greatest risks of data being misused are posed by: (A) thieves stealing the equipment and (B) children, for example, accessing and inadvertently transmitting data. Paper and waste-paper can be just as risky as electronic media – a system for teleworkers to dispose of used paper in the Confidential-Waste-Bins at central office has been implemented.
Third - Email overseas. Be
aware that you should not transfer (by email or other means) COMPANY data outside the E.E.A. (European Economic Area) where it is no
longer protected by the Data Protection Act.
For example if you send data to the
Note the statement, about COMPANY data and about monitoring, on your central-office computer screen that you tick (agree to) every time you log onto the RAS, whether you are at central-office or you are teleworking.
Data protection seems to be a complex issue. How will I know we have got it right and that we are not at risk?
A18. COMPANY is the designated Data-Controller and carries out regular checks across the organisation including checks on teleworkers. COMPANY are considering creating a bi-annual self-assessment Data Protection Act check-list that will take teleworkers just a few minutes to complete on their PC’s. When you pass the self-assessment, you will be sure you are not vulnerable under the Act/s. COMPANY will advise you if necessary.
As a teleworker, do I need to take out my own insurance to protect my home-office equipment, to cover accidents in the home-office, to cover data leaks and to cover any other risks?
A19. In general from COMPANY’s viewpoint, NO, you do not need to take out extra insurance as a COMPANY teleworker. COMPANY is insured against most risks and our policies extend to “all places of COMPANY business” which include home-offices, data in transit etc. So if home-office equipment is stolen or destroyed at home or in transit, COMPANY can claim in the usual way.
Notes: You are however advised to check your insurance policies to ensure that working at home does not nullify any of your home insurance. For example there may be a perceived additional risk of fire from the office equipment or of burglary because of the extra value of equipment, or because of a greater flow of business visitors.
Note that neither COMPANY nor you as an individual, teleworking or central-office working, can insure against criminal acts or criminal negligence; which are the ultimate sanctions under the data-protection and health & safety laws – so it pays to be careful with sensitive data. Some insurance companies now offer All-Risks home-office or teleworker insurance. Check if COMPANY will meet any additional home-office premium or if it remains your responsibility.
Are there any other risks I should assess?
A20. If your house electric wiring is old or suspect, you could apply to COMPANY for a payment to obtain a wiring safety certificate (from a local agency). Though it is not COMPANY’s legal responsibility to check the power supply and wiring, we have a shared responsibility from the home-office power socket/s to your home-office workstation equipment used for COMPANY business. See the HSE Self-Assessment Form SW2000-COMPANY-TW-HSE1 that gives useful advice and can trigger relevant actions.
Note: if there is any reason to be uncertain, it makes good sense for us to be sure the basic power supply is safe. We will usually supply your home-office with a protected plug for the power, and laptop/desktops are now sold with protection for the telephone connection (lightning strikes often burn out PC modems via the telephone line). If the power supply in your district is unreliable COMPANY may also recommend an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) box (a 5-10 hour battery) to support your computer. COMPANY will send you risk-assessment forms and will discuss any problems that arise.
I have read that as a teleworker, setting up an office at home, I should let my landlord or mortgage company know and advise my local authority. Is this good policy?
A21. Do not
volunteer. This is a maze you should
not enter. COMPANY advises that you read the small print of
your mortgage/lease/tenancy and get a copy of the local
authority or regional planning/zoning laws.
Consider if your home-office effects your legal occupation. This issue links to the claims you may make
for tax relief on your home-office costs.
In the vast majority of
Explanatory Property Note: Your mortgage company or landlord is concerned to have a tenancy free freehold in the event that they need to evict you for non-payment. (UK - While some 5 million “pieceworkers” (low paid low skill labour) and about 3 million self-employed people and teleworkers work at home in the UK, and most MP’s and local councillors have an office at their homes, property laws may not have caught up). A teleworker is not establishing a “business” at home, nor establishing a business tenancy. Similarly, the local /regional authority are concerned at surreptitious “change of use” – establishing an office use in a residential zone for example. If you read the by-laws you will note that they are mostly concerned with slaughter-houses, sheet-metal working and tanneries, for example, and heavy traffic being generated. None of which applies to teleworkers IF you bravely but successfully applied for change of use in planning law, then your home-office would attract both a Business-Rates assessment and become subject to capital gains tax on sale.
I find it very difficult to work on long electronic documents on-screen. Usually I print them and work through them manually. Will the telework equipment include a printer?
A22. YES, a printer is part of the standard equipment.
Notes: Printers, paper and printing inks are the responsibility of Stationery Procurement not COMPANY I.T or Human Resources but this is a common problem that can be solved with a low budget Ink-Jet printer that will be slower than the central-office laser printers but can produce up to 12 pages a minute; quite adequate for all but the largest reports. An application form is provided in the Facilities section of these guidelines. If you have an Ink-Jet printer that fails, it will be dealt with on a swap basis at central-office. They are light to carry and robust – and rarely go wrong. Ink audits (checking your COMPANY papers printed) may be conducted at random as the ink is expensive. For confidentiality purposes; paper and waste-paper can be just as risky as electronic media – a system for teleworkers to dispose of used paper in the Confidential-Waste-Bins at central office is available.
What training will I receive to help me to telework?
A23. You will be briefed by IT and separately by HR; and you will be able to take up any issues that are of particular concern to you.
Notes: Teleworkers may come from all levels and departments at COMPANY Some will be fully experienced to cope with all aspects of telework and others will have numerous questions. The training will generally take the form of refreshers and short briefings that identify the issues following which individual teleworkers will be able to either refer to this manual or communicate with fellow-teleworkers or will contact the relevant COMPANY departments.
The IT training is designed as a briefing followed up with IT support and the IT Help-Line. All teleworkers are given an IT training session or briefing focused on the few differences between working at central-office and working at home. This training is accessible on the COMPANY WEB site and the help-lines are open and should be the first option if a problem arises. Consult this Guidelines manual. Do not cart in your laptop/desktop until you have tried all other remedies – often faults can be fixed over the ‘phone.
When I telework, will I keep my desk or office at central-office for my exclusive use?
A24 – MOST PROBABLY - you will retain your central-office space. This is a question for the future when there might be a significant number, or a critical mass, of teleworkers; sufficient to allow some structural property changes.
Notes: If you telework full-time, you will eventually probably NOT retain your central-office space, but it will depend on how many days a month you telework at home. Facilities Management is under constant pressure to find suitable office space as COMPANY continues to bring the constituent organisations together. Each desk space at central-office costs COMPANY about $12,000 US a year, so if we can rely on a critical-mass of full-time teleworkers and re-use the central office space; we will.
How will I obtain office furniture and vital supplies and services other than the IT equipment that will be provided?
A25 – See the Facilities Management section. Take the measurements for the office space drawing and fill in the Forms to request your home-office furniture and equipment and supplies. Suppliers will be authorised by the COMPANY to deliver to your home and where relevant to install furniture and equipment. In some cases you will be authorised to buy consumables locally (paper, ink etc) and to be reimbursed.
Notes: The COMPANY intention is to ensure your home-office is as well equipped and well supplied as possible. If you leave COMPANY we will arrange for the furniture to be collected.
If I write COMPANY letters at home (and post them locally) should I put my home-office as the return address – or should all correspondence be routed to central-office?
A26 – Route all to Central-Office. You should not invite COMPANY business contacts to write to you at your home-office and you must continue to follow authorisation procedures for issuing COMPANY letters and documents, printed or electronic. The general principle is that external COMPANY contacts should not know that you are working at home. In due course, your central-office telephone will be seamlessly and invisibly patched through to your home-office when you telework and external people will not be aware that you are not at central-office.