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Telecommuting Q&A

January 7, 2001
Related Topics: Telecommuting, Featured Article
I would like to know different organizations’ feelings and policiesconcerning telecommuting expenses and what a "work-at-home"employee gets reimbursed for. I have heard of employers purchasingcomputers, phone lines, and fax machines, even desk equipment. Please share.Thanks. 
What a company will reimburse for typically rests on a couple of factors.Most often the employer will assess the extent to which the employee needthem to complete his or her work, the number of days they will betelecommuting, equipment, what support is available and budget. If you areproposing to telecommute and want your employer to reimburse for part ofyour home office set up, you should check with their telecommuting policy(if any) and define for your company what off-setting benefits will accrueto the organization as a result of your telecommuting arrangement. Forexample, if you are relinquishing or sharing office space that would be anoffsetting saving to the company. If you can measure your increasedproductivity, that would help, too. 

A satellite sales office in his home? Be sure you have covered all thebases and expectations about what that means. You probably want to have asigned agreement detailing the terms. For example, will he be entertainingclients in his home? What equipment does he need to do his job? Will yourcompany reserve the right to conduct an inspection of his home office? Doyou give ergonomic guidance? 
Sales positions are perfect candidates for telecommuting or virtual officearrangements as the bulk of their time should be with clients as opposed tobeing in the office. You must be sure to be clear on expectations at theoutset. 

Try to do a simple cost benefit analysis. What are the advantages to yourmanager and the company that would flow from your work at home? Whatchallenges would arise and how would you overcome them? Being off-site meansyou cannot rely on chance encounters. Perhaps you will develop betterplanning and time management skills by telecommuting. How will you and yoursupervisor measure your effectiveness or productivity? 

Check out AT&T. They have been pioneers in telecommuting and are alsoorganized.
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