Although remote work agreements have become increasingly common, formal guidelines at the state level have been slow to catch up. On a federal level, things are a lot more structured...at least for government agencies and employees. In 2010 the US Government enacted the Telework Enhancement Act at the federal level in an attempt to establish standards that would allow both employees and employers to realize the benefits of telework.
Here are just a few of the requirements and benefits that flow from this act for government agencies and employees. The act:
Requires each Executive agency to establish a policy under which eligible employees are authorized to telework
Applies to all Federal Executive agencies
Provides a statutory definition for telework
Requires a written telework agreement between the employee and manager as a condition for participation in telework
Directs agencies to designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO)
Requires employees and managers to complete interactive telework training, unless an exception has been made by the head of the agency for employees already engaged in telework prior to enactment
Outlines responsibilities and expectations for policy guidance and reporting of telework
Provides a framework for Federal agencies to better leverage technology and maximize the use of telework
Supports agency efforts to achieve important goals, such as recruitment and retention of a productive Federal workforce
Enhances Federal employee work-life balance.
Although state guidelines are still nearly non-existent, more structure around telework at the state level will inevitably follow closely behind and most likely adopt many of the structures in place. As of now though, what we have for about 34 out of 50 states are a variety of initiatives that support remote work.
For the most part, if you're not a government employee, the structure of your telework agreement is completely up to you and your employer (along with your HR department) and is only subject to current employment laws including those that apply for exempt and non-exempt employees. These days it's relatively easy to find companies that are pro telework. It's also easy to identify those that are not, like yahoo!, who in 2013 announced a no telecommute policy citing the need for impromptu collaboration as the reason. The company culture and vision of those in leadership largely determine whether a telework proposal will be well received.
Examples of state initiatives to Support Remote Work
So far, I've only discovered one site that brings together all state initiatives in an easy to understand format (www.blr.com). Below are some examples of state initiatives in place that could help make the case for remote work arrangements.
In California there are no specific statutes directly regulating telecommuting. Private employers should have written agreements with all employees who telecommute, as well as signed safety self-certifications for the home office.
In Texas, where I currently reside, employers and government officials are more motivated to promote telecommuting in order to get cars off the road. Cities in Texas have limited public transport for the majority of employees. There are major issues with pollution from both the number of cars on the road and the many refineries that bring Houston the majority of its wealth. There are several programs providing great incentives for Texas employers to reduce the overall emissions and one of the ways to do that is to arrange for more employees not to have to drive to the office. The North Central Texas Council of Governments offers assistance with telecommuting programs.
The Texas Commute Solutions Coalition of Central Texas, sponsored by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Commission, has a webpage on teleworking that gives tips on how to implement a telecommuting program and how to effectively communicate the benefits of telecommuting to employees.
Arizona has taken more strict measures in an effort to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Major employers are required to prepare and submit a travel reduction plan for their employees to a state task force.
In some states, just like at some companies, previous telework programs have been repealed. In Goergia, for example, the tax credit for employers establishing or expanding a telework program has expired and the Georgia Industrial Homework Act and the Industrial Board that oversaw the Act regulation have been repealed.
Understanding what's happening in your state, which changes from year to year, is an important piece of the puzzle when crafting your remote work proposal. Residing in a state and even working for a company that doesn't support telework in a structured way is by no means a reason not to approach your employer to work out an arrangement.
Book a session with me to discuss the feasibility of a remote work schedule for your specific circumstance here. If you are already familiar with the guidelines for your state and your company's policies, download a template to start crafting your perfect schedule here.