“What if you are a member of the management team for a growing magazine currently employing 25 people and based in California. Because of high gasoline prices and longer commutes, your team is thinking about drafting a "telecommuting policy.” You are going to decide this issue; how involved should employees be in creating this policy?
There seems little reason to keep employees out of the process of creating a policy on telecommuting. One would guess that the more input staff has in drafting the policy, the more likely self-policing and buy-in would be be strong from the outset.
This does not mean that the staff should draft the policy on its own. Management can invite input without abnegating authority.
Employees should be involved in making decisions for areas that affect them. Employees are in the trenches, and they see your product and your customer every day. They can have valuable insight into changes and suggestions that can really save money or increase sales.
If employees get to have a say in decision making policy, they would feel more invested and perhaps committed to the company they are working for. I am an educator and it is rare when teacher's input is requested by administrators. Many times over the years, new programs are put into place without consulting teachers and they usually are doomed to fail due to the fact that no one in the "trenches" was ever asked their opinion about the new program. They don't feel committed to the new philosophy and after awhile, the new initiative is abandoned. In a company, as in a school, it would be wise to try to involve the employees in an effort to show that their opinion matters.
With a policy such as this, I think you would find that employees are intrinsically motivated towards offering valuable input. The vast majority of employees would want to telecommute if possible, I mean, who wouldn't want to come to "work" in the computer room of your house in their robe and slippers? My point being that your employees will want to make this a functional, practical and effective policy.
In addition, since employees are usually specialized in their particular departments, often they will know better than managers what will need to be included in a policy such as this in order for it to be effective and work best for them, so it makes sense to involve employees in this particular decision from the ground level up.
I believe that the employees should be significantly involved in the drafting of this telecommuting policy. I full agree with Post #2 that employees need to be involved in this decision making because they are the ones who will be most affected by the magazine's telecommuting policy. I also wholeheartedly agree with Post #3, that the magazine's management must ensure that the employees have training in computer use and any software programs or on-line systems where they will input and edit their work.
Employees involved in the development of the telecommuting policy will buy into the program more when they see their thoughts, views, and ideas are being taken into consideration. In addition, they can inform management as to their concerns with the policy and how they believe they can most benefit from a comprehensive policy.
However, management must ensure that the policy incorporates processes and procedures that advance their overall corporate goals, while at the same time cutting expenses, and enhancing employee work performance.
Telecommuting will require that there be very clear guidelines about how employees will complete work and adhere to deadlines. I would think that a magazine might accomplish this better than many other businesses, because it is primarily about developing ideas and writing and editing copy. These things can be accomplished online pretty easily. Teleconferencing meetings is also possible.
Employees will need to know how to do these things via computer, so management would definitely want to make sure that employees understood the how of the operation. You would need their participation for that.
It would make sense to have the employees be strongly involved in creating your policy on telecommuting as they are the ones who are going to be impacted by it in the most ways. Telecommuting is often something that is offered as an option to relatively skilled workers (like your magazine writers) as a way of making life easier for them. Workers like this tend to be highly independent and therefore to like to have some input into their working conditions. It would therefore make sense to involve them in creating the policy.