The Ethics of Telework – The Manager Perspective

The Ethics of Telework – The Manager Perspective

As more organizations expand their telework programs, it is often up to supervisors to maintain the link to employees and to make sure that mission-critical work is completed. To maximize the benefits of telework, managers need to build trust with employees and behave ethically towards them. What does this mean in practical terms?  Here are some tips to show your employees you are doing right by them:

  • Work with employees to define their standard work schedule, and then respect those boundaries. When someone is working at home, it is easy to ask them to work just a bit later on an assignment – after all, they are already at home and don’t have a commute. What is one more email?  Unless it is truly an emergency, recognize that “off the clock” means off the clock – everyone needs a break to clear their minds.
  • Provide essential supplies, including laptop, cell phone and office materials. If you were in the office, there would likely be a supply closet with pens, paper and printer toner.  If you provide it in the office, unless something was stated differently in an employment agreement, you should have a mechanism for providing key supplies and materials when you ask employees to transition to work from home status.
  • Stay connected – it is easy to fall into a “out of sight, out of mind” mindset with employees, especially those who are doing good work. Remember to take the time to express appreciation and to check in to see how things are going. Business ethics include treating people well at work – even when apart.
  • Be open about your own schedule, so employees know how to reach you – being honest about your own obligations will help employees feel more comfortable being honest about theirs.
  • Accept long-term telework ups-and-downs and build in ways to physically meet. For those who enjoy working with others in an office, an organizational transition to telework can become challenging over time.  Consider ways to interact as time and circumstances unfold.

Business ethics is about what is right and wrong in the workplace – and when you are a supervisor, you are expected to not only do the right thing yourself, but to make sure your employees are doing so to.  Staying open, honest, and connected is the best way to “do ethics” – even from afar.

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