Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do You Have a Work-at-Home Policy?

We were recently perusing the updated audit program for conducting floorchecks and came upon the section dealing with contractor employees who telework, i.e. work from their homes or from alternate work sites and it got us to wondering just how prevalent this practice has become. At one time, telework was one of the hottest HR trends. It was believed that teleworking would lead to higher job satisfaction and companies could reduce the footprint of their facilities thereby saving money. There would be societal benefits as well; less highway congestion and cleaner air. Despite its benefits, there was always some level of skepticism as to the impact of teleworking on employee productivity. Nevertheless, a lot of companies jumped on the bandwagon and fully endorsed a work-at-home program.

Even the Federal Government jumped on the telework bandwagon. In 2000 legislation was passed that required federal workers to telework to the maximum extent possible. By 2013, 3.3 percent of federal workers teleworked on a regular basis and actually lead the way among different classes of workers. By comparison, the percentage of private sector employees was only 2.6 percent (these statistics come from Global Workplace Analytics). Local government employers ranked last with only 1.2 percent teleworking).

Over the past several years, we have observed a number of contractors who have rolled back their work-at-home programs including a very large Government contractor. Obviously, those firms must have conducted some kind of cost/benefit study and determined that there wasn't a sufficient "business case" to be made to continue the programs.

If you are one of those contractors that still allow employees to work from home, and you have flexibly priced contracts (e.g. CPFF, T&M), the contract auditor will have some very specific questions concerning how that employee is monitored, supervised, and his/her productivity is assessed. Obviously the auditor is not going to show up at the employee's home to conduct a floorcheck but the auditor will be interviewing the employees' supervisors and ask for documentary evidence of supervisory control that will most likely include questions as to how productivity is measured and assessed. The auditor may even decide to interview the employee by phone.

The objective of a floorcheck audit is to test compliance with timekeeping internal controls and procedures , the reliability of timesheets, and to verify that employees are actually at work, performing in their assigned job classifications and charging to the proper contract. Although it is difficult to meet these audit objectives when employees are working at home, the auditor will find some way to satisfy such requirements.

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