Sam Houston State University (SHSU or University) permits employees to telecommute on a temporary, case by case basis when doing so serves the best interest of the University and is approved in advance by the department head.
What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting is defined as approved temporary performance of work assignments from a remote location other than the employee’s regularly assigned place of employment arrangement for a period of up to six (6) months. Telecommuting may be approved for intermittent or consecutive periods. Telecommuting that exceeds five business days requires prior written approval of the department head and Division Vice President.Proposal Form Read Policy
Nature of Employment and Period of Agreement
- Approval of telecommuting is not an entitlement. It is granted on a case-by-case basis by the Department Head and Division Vice President after receipt of a Telecommuting Proposal is submitted by the employee.
- Telecommuting staff employees are employees at-will.
- Telecommuting employees must comply with all SHSU policies and procedures, Texas State University System Rules and Regulations, and these guidelines.
- Telecommuting arrangements are subject to the employee's period of employment with SHSU and end upon the employee's separation from employment.
- Telecommuting is not a permanent arrangement but may be approved for periods of up to six months. Telecommuting arrangements are subject to renewal or termination at any time due to performance concerns, employee discipline, a change in policy, law, or the needs of SHSU as interpreted by the department head, division vice president, or president
- Telecommuting employees are expected to work from a location within the State of Texas. However, if the employee works out-of-state, both employee and supervisor have an obligation to notify the SHSU Payroll Department of the state where the employee is located to ensure payroll taxes are remitted to the appropriate taxing jurisdiction. The Payroll Office may be reached at 936-294-1273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Job Schedule, Location, Communications, and Responsibilities
- While telecommuting, an employee's job responsibilities and standards of performance remain the same as when physically working on campus. The quantity, quality, and timeliness of an employee's work are expected to be maintained or enhanced.
- Supervisors will evaluate telecommuting arrangements on an ongoing basis to ensure that the employee meets performance outcome measures.
- A telecommuting employee will be accessible during scheduled hours, available for video or teleconferences scheduled on an as-needed basis, and physically come to the office as scheduled by the supervisor and as a business need arises. An employee will be reachable during business hours by phone, chat, text, or email as determined by your supervisor.
- Nonexempt telecommuting employees must maintain a 40-hour workweek. Exempt telecommuting employees must work the number of hours necessary to complete the requirements of the job. Telecommuting employee will request Supervisor approval in advance of working any overtime hours (if the employee is non-exempt) and will request approval before using vacation, sick, or other leave.
- Telecommuting employees will travel to campus to attend meetings and events as assigned by the employee’s supervisor. Telecommuting employees are responsible for following all parking policies and paying for parking when on campus, as are all SHSU employees.
- Telecommuting employees will maintain a safe, secure, and ergonomic work environment. SHSU assumes no liability for injury at the remote work location to any other person who would not be in the work area if the duties were being performed at the employee's regular place of employment.
- A telecommuting employee must immediately notify the supervisor of an on-the-job injury, as required by SHSU Finance and Operations Human Resources Policy B-2.
Equipment, Supplies, and Access
- It is expected that a telecommuting employee will use personal devices, space, printer, networking and/or internet capabilities at the employee's sole expense. The employee is responsible for any damage to his/her personally-owned equipment during telecommuting.
- A telecommuting employee may describe and present to the supervisor a request for office equipment, hardware, software, communication needs, and office supplies to facilitate working from a remote location. The supervisor will review the request. In the unusual situation where there is an exception to the personal equipment expectation, the supervisor will document the need and demonstrate how providing equipment is in the best interest of the university. Any purchase or reimbursement of equipment shall be made in accordance with applicable SHSU policies.
- A telecommuting employee will physically work at the employee's regularly assigned place of employment during any periods when the employee's personal equipment is unavailable or the employee is waiting for SHSU equipment to be issued, repaired, or reviewed. SHSU will not reimburse the employee for costs not pre-approved by the supervisor.
- SHSU will not reimburse a telecommuting employee for out-of-pocket expenses for materials and supplies that are reasonably available at the regularly assigned place of employment.
- Only SHSU approved software will be used for connecting to the SHSU network. The telecommuting employee will run SHSU prescribed anti-virus software at all times and follow all SHSU information security rules, copyright laws, and manufacturers' licensing agreements.
- SHSU equipment located at a telecommuting employee's remote location is subject to all policies and restrictions related to use of state-owned property. The employee is responsible for any equipment and software used at the remote location, including that which may be lost, stolen, or damaged due to negligence, misuse or abuse by any individual at the telecommuting site
- Technology equipment and software provided by SHSU may only be serviced by IT@Sam. Contact the IT@Sam Service desk for assistance. Employees may not take SHSU provided technology to a 3rd party service provider without prior documented approval by IT@Sam for the specific incident.
- A Telecommute employee should review the IT@Sam “Remote Work” guidelines website.
Data and Property Protection
- A telecommuting employee must protect University-owned and/or provided equipment, records, and materials from unauthorized or accidental access, use, modification, destruction, or disclosure. (See, SHSU “Security & Privacy” policies.)
- A telecommuting employee must report any incidents of possible loss, damage, or unauthorized access to data and materials to the supervisor at the earliest reasonable opportunity.
- A telecommuting employee must return University-owned equipment for inspection, repair, replacement, or repossession upon receipt of written or electronic notice.
- A telecommuting employee must return University-owned equipment, records, and materials immediately upon termination of the telecommuting arrangement.
Expected Performance Outcome
The policy requires supervisors to define expected performance outcome measures appropriate for the proposed telecommuting employee’s job assignment before approving a proposal.
Set Performance Outcome Measures using SMART performance goals
Goal setting is one of the most powerful ways to direct energy and focus, measure, and evaluate employee performance. Goal setting is a powerful driver of performance. Goals work best when they are challenging and meaningful to the employee. Setting performance goals can typically be accomplished with the use of a SMART goal:
Goals work best when they are a stretch to meet, but not so difficult that they are unattainable. The more specific and measurable the goal, the more likely it is the employee will achieve the desired results.
Effective Examples of SMART Goals:
- By X date launch the web page advertising the new service to students.
- Handle at least XX service calls per day with fewer than Y callbacks for the same problem.
- Enhance division visibility by publishing an article on X topic by Y date.
- Process travel reimbursements within X business days.
- Publicizing our upcoming event on a variety of social media outlets, resulting in XX event registrations on our website.
Set expectations from the onset
When employees know what to expect, they can perform accordingly. One of the biggest problems remote employees have is understanding parameters for acceptable behaviors, interactions, and workflow. Unlike on-campus employees, remote employees cannot learn from just observing their peers and manager. Without direction, they will have a much steeper learning curve for knowing what is expected of them. Therefore, it is critical that you clearly define work requirements from the beginning. Make sure all employees know what is expected of them, which may include:
- Meeting set performance metrics on a weekly basis
- Accomplishing predetermined goals
- Providing project updates
- Sticking to task timelines
- Working agreed-upon business hours
That said, employees will appreciate a bit of wiggle room in schedules to deal with home-based matters. As long as each person knows what he or she is accountable for, having some flexibility will help build loyalty and trust.
Set up a schedule for regular check-ins
Regular check-ins keep both supervisor and employee updated on progress and expectations. When you manage remote employees, checking in regularly helps to facilitate feedback and build rapport. Having regularly established one-on-one meetings will keep you updated throughout the year, and provide opportunities for employees to speak directly to you about successes or problems they might have. Employees are eager for feedback, and your undivided attention is important for them. Remember to take notes after the meeting of any issues that need to be addressed and appropriate action items. To a manager, these things are easily overlooked or forgotten when the person is not in view; however, such matters often remain at the forefront of your remote employee’s mind.
Try to use video conferencing when possible
Communication with your employees is vital for success. Technology can make managing remote employees easier with the use of available video conferencing technology such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx or other popular applications to provide feedback. Discussing items face-to-face requires more attention from the supervisor and accountability from the employee.
Ask for status updates
Ask employees to keep a weekly log of their work. That way, both parties can keep track of what is getting done. Even if you do not look at the log every day, you will be able to see progress over time. These updates are also helpful for both of you to reference during one-on-one meetings and evaluations. Such records help keep a manager from overlooking accomplishments while keeping employees accountable.
Set action items and goals with deadlines
When managing any employee’s performance, it is important to set goals. It is an absolute necessity when managing the performance of remote employees. Remote employees need to have action items and goals with deadlines established by their supervisor. Deadlines help employees to plan work, create task calendars, and clearly understand what is expected of them. Deadlines provide opportunities for regular check-ins to see if an employee is managing assignments according to your expectations. Follow up on action items with employees to see how goals are being met.
Check out training resources available for those telecommuting and/or managing telecommuting employees.