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Summary:

When we discuss telecommuting dilemmas for businesses, we often jump to talking about management issues. But many other parts of an organization can also have concerns about telecommuting; one of them is the human resources department. Here are four issues that your HR department may face.

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When we discuss telecommuting dilemmas for businesses, we often jump to talking about management issues. But many other parts of an organization can also have valid concerns about telecommuting; one of them is the human resources department.

Here are four telecommuting concerns your human resources department may face:

  1. It’s harder to brief someone if he isn’t in the office. The HR department takes point on updating employees about insurance, internal policies and a variety of other matters. This is relatively straightforward if everyone is in the office, but with telecommuters, making arrangements to brief them can become a lot harder. Additionally, telecommuters don’t hear office news in passing or talk about a particular change around the water cooler, so it’s often necessary to make special arrangements to update employees working outside of the office.
  2. Benefits provision is more complex with a distributed workforce. Many organizations use their size to negotiate better prices for health insurance, for example, but when a team can be spread across state lines or even international borders, it’s harder to find one insurance provider who can handle everything. The same holds true for other types of benefits, too.
  3. Hiring specifically for telecommuting positions requires modification to the application process. Not only are there different skills and aptitudes that your HR department will need to find when you’re hiring for a telecommuting position, but you may also be hiring people who can’t come into the office for an interview. That can require some major changes to your organization’s application and hiring processes.
  4. If there’s a problem with an employee, you need to have a plan in place to remove their access. When your organization relies on telecommuters, the process of terminating employment isn’t just a matter of escorting them out of the building. Priority has to be placed on removing their access to your organization’s virtual systems.

Image courtesy Flickr user Mike McCune

  1. I definitely agree that there are some different challenges that go along with managing the human resources aspect of telecommuting employees. With #4, however, I think this is an issue for any employee whether in-office or telecommuting. Most people who work primarily on a computer, if terminated, need to be removed from the company’s virtual network as well as the building. Additionally, even if they aren’t telecommuting, many people bring work home with them because they can connect to their company’s networks easily online. So, I think it’s safe to eliminate this one as a separate issue for telecommuters, and gladly it’s one less additional thing HR managers will need to worry about — or at least, they don’t have to worry about it anymore than they would with a regular in-office employee. As long as the IT department has a list of all the programs and networks a person has access to, when they leave their job, they should be able to make fast work of disconnecting that person from the virtual side of things.

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  2. Agreed, but the squeeze is more than worth the juice. Think about savings and employee morale.

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