Asian Hotels and Properties PLC, is a subsidiary of Sri Lanka's premier blue chip conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC .it operates in two sectors namely the Hotels that operate under the Cinnamon brand umbrella and the Property Development segment where I serve as the CEO of the company.
The Group Holding Company implemented a robust Employee Service System in 2006, that works on a SAP platform, following which all HR related information is accessible to all Employees by simply logging into the company's web Portal.
On a recent survey, conducted at my Business Unit that covers Apartment Sales, Leasing of Apartments and Mall Management, it revealed that 50% of employee carried out support or back-office functions ; feeding data, seated in front of a computer, networked to the company Global SAP system.
Given the current environment of rising costs, one of the many initiatives that I proposed looking at is the implementation of a teleworking initiative. I along with a core group of management staff, set up a list of, Telework Guidelines to ensure that the implementation of such teleworking initiatives occur in a structured and well planned manner and to ensure that all employees are treated equitably.
Teleworking is an initiative under which the Company would be offering selected employees whose roles have been identified as being suitable for teleworking, an opportunity to work certain days at a place other than their primary workplace. The telework location may be the employee's home or another suitable location as approved by or identified by the Company
The initiative is to be further debated and refined before, it is presented to the Board of Management for their final sanction.
What is Teleworking?
Teleworking (also referred to as telecommuting) work arrangements in which an employee regularly performs officially assigned duties at home or other work sites geographically convenient to the residence of the employee.
Telework, like other flexibilities, can assist managers in attracting, recruiting, and retaining the best possible workforce. In addition, by decreasing employee commute times and other work/life stress, telework can help make employees more effective in their jobs. Telework may also be used as a reasonable accommodation for disability.
Integrating telework fully into a company's operations and culture can also help maintain critical functionality in the event of an emergency.
Given the objective of the company in terms of managing costs, the most suitable mode of teleworking would be a Home based Teleworking (HBT) system. HBT is where employees work from home rather than commuting to office, for a couple of days of the week or as little as once a month, based on the specific job requirements.
Proposed modus operandi of Initiative
Can staff in my business unit undertake Teleworking?
Staff, who are currently on the payroll must willingly accept teleworking and must voluntarily take part in the initiative. In case of future recruitment to positions identified as teleworkable, would not require further consents as upon recruitment this aspect will be advised. However, it should be noted that, an employee does not have a right or entitlement to telework and that the identification of employees eligible to telework would be carried out at the discretion and based on the need as identified by the Profit Centre Manager (PCM) based on the Business Unit (BU) work flow.
The following positions will not be eligible to telework.
- Positions that require, on a daily basis (i.e., every work day) direct handling of secure materials or on-site activity that cannot be handled remotely or at an alternative worksite, such as face-to-face personal contact customer front end activities; hands-on contact with machinery, equipment, vehicles, etc.; or other physical presence/site dependent activity and,
- Employees occupying teleworkable positions whose last performance rating is below expectations or whose conduct has resulted in disciplinary action within the last two years
- Data analysis / Research
- Report writing / Documentation
- Other back office functions that have a clear deliverables and need basic connectivity to company's network, which requires only minimum supervision and interaction.
Typical areas for Teleworking would include the following;
The most critical part when undertaking teleworking is how the sensitivity and confidentiality of data is handled; Selected employees would be screened to ensure that they are adequately self-motivated, disciplined and have the ability to carry out the designated work with limited supervision.
It is proposed that there are 2 filters to determine whether teleworking should be introduced:
- whether the position, as per job role, can deliver at optimum under a teleworking arrangement; and
- whether the current incumbent is suited to undertake teleworking.
How to effectively manage the implementation of a Teleworking program?
- Implementation of teleworking should be done strategically (in order to maximize optimization of cost savings and productivity gains) rather than on a piecemeal basis. Employees should also participate in the implementation process and get involved in solving issues that may arise.
- Educate and provide guidelines to employees on requirements and procedures involved in teleworking
- Provide adequate training for eligible employees on the dos and don'ts of teleworking
- Appoint a Telework Coordinator (TC) with whom employees and PCM would liaise with to resolve any issues with regard to teleworking. The TC would at all times know which employee is teleworking, ensure that teleworking policies and guidelines are adhered to, and be able to provide remote assistance to employees as well as escalate any policy level and infrastructure level issues to PCM.
- Establish good performance measurement practices and educate employees undertaking teleworking on these practices.
- Set up BU specific teleworking policy documents and sign teleworking agreements with employees undertaking teleworking. Teleworking agreements should remain live and be reviewed annually. Annexure 1
- As part of the Telework agreement the Managers and employees should discuss and come in to an agreement on expectations from both parties. Typically including the following;
- The employee should be contactable at all times during work hours when teleworking
- The mode of contact would be per the company assigned mobile phone/fixed line and email connectivity.
- The employee should ensure that his email is downloaded at least once every half hour.
- The BU will provide teleworking employees with security ID tokens, which would enable a more secure link between the HBT workstation and the company SAP system.
- Weekly / Monthly Teleworking schedule
- Establishing frequency of performance measurement and key performance indicators.
- Disciplinary action and termination of Teleworking contract.
What IT infrastructure do I need to implement Teleworking?
Information technology is an important element in the success of the teleworking and it is therefore, important that the necessary IT infrastructure is set up prior to the implementation in consultation with the Holding companies IT coordinator.
Critical IT infrastructure requirements would be;
- Provision of Lotus notes, and SAP would be through secure ID tokens to all employees who would be participating in the initiative. Costs currently estimated as Rs 1000 to Rs 2500 per month based on the number of tokens required.
- Ensuring employees undertaking teleworking posses necessary equipment such as computers, and telephones to perform duties effectively
- Connectivity would be via a Sri Lanka Telecom ADSL broad band connection or through Mobitel 3G data connection. ( Details of packages negotiated with SLT and Mobitel are given in Annexure 11)
PCMs would need to assess the existing/proposed workstation/computer requirements in the context of the number of teleworking positions/persons in the BU. This should be undertaken for purposes of annual planning?
How do I evaluate the success of the teleworking initiative at my division?
In order to ensure that Teleworking provides intended benefits, an effective evaluation criteria would be established, that involves;
- Pre set objectives for employees undertaking teleworking and measure the effectiveness of achieving objectives in comparison to working in an office environment
- Perform cost benefit analysis's on teleworking by comparing overhead cost savings achieved against incremental cost of teleworking and there by measuring the cost efficiency of teleworking
- Receive feedback from employees who undertook teleworking and take measures to rectify any faults in the system
Upon implementing the proposed teleworking program the company would need to watch out for possible pit falls of the initiative and take necessary precautionary measures. Some of the possible pitfalls include;
SCOPE OF AGREEMENT
- The Employee agrees to telework in accordance with the Teleworking Rules of the Employer as communicated to the Employee. "Telework" means, working at the residence of the Employee or any remote workplace previously approved by the Employer, on certain days of the week.
- Employee agrees that teleworking may be terminated at any time by the Employer subject to the terms of this Agreement.
- This Agreement does not affect the terms and conditions of the Employee's employment as per the Employees Letter of Appointment ("LOA"), which remains unchanged.
- This Agreement shall become effective on the date written above, and shall remain in full force
- this Agreement is terminated by the Employer by giving seven (07) days notice in writing with or without cause; and/or
- the LOA is terminated for any reason.
- The Employer shall not be held responsible for costs, damages or losses resulting from the cessation of this Agreement.
- This Agreement is not a separate contract of employment and may not be construed as such.
- The Employee acknowledges that the salary and job responsibilities of the Employee does not change because of Telework.
- The Employer reserves the right to review the quantum of any travel reimbursement (if any) paid to the Employee based on the monthly frequency of Teleworking carried out by the Employee.
- Teleworking will be carried out by the Employee at ...........................................................................................................and any change of such location would need to be with prior approval of the TC (as defined below).
- Work hours and leave entitlements shall be the same as that stated in the LOA.
- The Employer shall appoint a teleworking co-ordinator who will be in charge of the implementing the Teleworking Rules adopted for the Department in which the Employee is working (hereinafter referred to as the "TC").
- The Telework Rules may be changed from time to time at the discretion of the Employer without notice to the Employee.
- The TC shall be responsible for allocating and monitoring all work and agreeing on the Employees performance plan whilst teleworking.
- Employee understands that a decline in work performance and/or failure to perform his/her assigned duties whilst Teleworking may result in termination of this Agreement and/or appropriate disciplinary action.
- The Employee understands that the Employee remains liable for injuries to third persons and/or members of Employee's family on Employee's premises.
- Employee agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Employer, its affiliates, employees, contractors and agents, from and against any and all claims, demands or liability (including any related losses, costs, expenses, and attorney fees) resulting from, or arising in connection with, any injury to persons (including death) or damage to property caused, directly or indirectly, by the services provided herein by Employee or by Employee's willful misconduct, negligent acts or omissions in the performance of the Employee's duties and obligations under this Agreement.
- The Employee shall be responsible for maintaining the safety and security of all Company data, software, Equipment, facilities and supplies and shall comply with all policies and instructions regarding security of confidential information and disclosure of information.
TERM OF AGREEMENT