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How to handle teleworkers’ home office tech needs

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in Office Management,Records Retention

Should your organization buy a computer, pay for Internet access and maintain the equipment that your teleworkers use in their home offices?

The federal government recently authorized its agencies do all of that for their teleworkers. And that may be the smart play for your organization, too.

Taking some control of the technology that your employees use at home can encourage more of them to telework—a move that has saved employers millions of dollars in real-estate costs. Plus, it can ensure the security of the data and documents that the telecommuter works with in a home office.

Here are 10 recommendations from a recent U.S. General Services Administration bulletin on telework that your organization can adopt for its own remote workers:

  1. Cover the basics. Every teleworker should have access to a computer, printer, copier, scanner, fax machine, Internet service or other equipment necessary to do the same work from home as in the office. Determine what your teleworkers need and provide it.
  2. Get double-duty from laptops. Don’t assign one computer for in-office work and another for at-home work to the same employee. Instead, equip teleworkers with laptops to carry between home and office.
  3. Hang onto equipment that you’re replacing in the office. Your IT department can update it enough for use by a teleworker.
  4. Spring for a dedicated phone line for each teleworker. Whether it’s a land line or a cell phone, install a work-only voice line that’s separate from the one used by a dial-up Internet service or fax. Managers and co-workers should be able to reach their teleworking colleagues without hearing a constant busy signal because the telecommuter has to share a phone with family members.
  5. Be flexible about the kind of Internet service you will cover. Some teleworkers need ultra-high-speed connections to do their jobs, while others might live in areas where dial-up is the only available option. Make sure your policy doesn’t box you into paying only for one kind of connectivity.
  6. Secure your teleworkers’ computers according to their jobs’ level of sensitivity. An employee who remotely accesses your company’s budget, personnel records or proposals probably needs more secure equipment than one who doesn’t have such access.
  7. Equip home workers with videoconferencing or Web-conferencing tools so they can participate in meetings without having to show up at the office. This technology also can cut down on expensive business travel.
  8. Train teleworkers before sending them home. Teach them about security concerns and allow them to practice in a telework situation before becoming full-fledged teleworkers.
  9. Educate your IT staff about issues unique to teleworkers. Extend the same technical support and routine equipment maintenance to home workers as to those who work in the office. Tip: Provide routine maintenance via remote transmitting (“pushing”) software so teleworkers don’t have to lug their computers to the office for service.
  10. If you can’t afford to pay for teleworkers’ equipment, let them use their own. But install proper security on it and ask the employee to sign a telework agreement that clearly outlines the teleworker’s and the organization’s responsibilities.  

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