Teleworking is a great way to introduce flexibility in your workplace, whether for your staff or for yourself.
What is teleworking?
Teleworking, also known as remote working, is a flexible working arrangement.
It means working regularly from home or some other location, instead of the office.
Most people think of working from home when they think of teleworking, but employees can also work from:
telehubs – offices that are set up for teleworkers. They can be set up by a business for their own workers only, or be made available to rent by teleworkers from different businesses.
telecentres – a public place where people can access computers, the internet and other technologies.
mobile offices –for example, you can work in your car, a coffee shop or on public transport. A ‘mobile office’ is generally made up of a smart phone and portable computer (laptop or tablet), with some administrative support from colleagues in the central office.
a different office – for example, a team located in a Sydney head office, may have a team member working from a smaller regional office in Newcastle.
Benefits of teleworking
Like other types of flexible working arrangements, teleworking can help you to create a positive workplace. It offers you and your employees an alternative to the traditional office environment and a way to improve work-life balance.
Teleworking can help you to:
improve staff morale, motivation and productivity
be an employer of choice
reduce staff turnover and absenteeism
reduce staffing costs.
Things to consider
Teleworking isn’t suitable for all types of work – it’s difficult to serve customers in a café from different location! – and you need to have the right policies and procedures in place.
Before you set up teleworking in your workplace, there a few things you need to consider.
Identify the tasks that can be carried out by a teleworker
What work can be completed successfully outside your main place of business?
For example, while you need employees in your retail shop to serve customers, you could offer teleworking to employees who develop your marketing plans or do paperwork.
Work out how to keep your data safe and secure
If your business handles sensitive or personal data, think about how this data can be shared with teleworkers.
You might need to set up a secure IT system, or provide a storage device to employees that can be used to take data outside the office.
It’s important to understand how you can protect your business information, so talk to an IT security professional about your needs.
Consider how you will manage and supervise teleworkers
If you introduce teleworking in your workplace, you may need to adapt your supervising and managing techniques.
Because you can’t physically see your teleworkers, it's not as easy to 'keep an eye' on what they're doing.
Here are some suggested techniques:
Touch base with your teleworkers for 5 minutes every morning to discuss what the day's tasks will be.
Use a web chat tool so your teleworkers can quickly ask questions about their work.
Use phone or video conferencing to include teleworkers in team meetings.
Invite your teleworkers into the workplace on a regular basis so that the whole team has a chance to get to know each other and mingle informally.
Understand your workplace health and safety (WHS) obligations
The workplace health and safety (WHS) obligations that apply to your workplace also apply to teleworking locations.
It's good practice to have formal WHS policies and guidelines on how these will be applied to teleworking situations. Policies should include risk assessments, risk monitoring and risk reduction procedures.
I’m interested – what do I do next?
The Australian Government is aiming to double the level of teleworking in Australia by 2020, so there's a wide range of government support available.