Temporary Telework Guidelines

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Section I – Background and Purpose

Background

Sonoma County encourages the use of teleworking as a viable, voluntary option for County employees. Events over the last few years and unfolding today can make it a valuable resource for the continuity of services and operations.

County Departments are encouraged to review their operations ahead of potential crises to identify positions that, in an emergency of unknown duration, can assist in maintaining program continuity from their homes or other sites through teleworking.

Additionally, in event of quarantines and other reactions to potential communicable diseases, departments may need to prepare for a significant portion of their workforce to work from home for a period of unknown duration.

Purpose

The County has developed this Temporary Telework Guideline for approving and implementing telework arrangements. County departments may adopt the use of these temporary telework guidelines, or components of it, when crafting a temporary telework program which meets their operational needs during emergency periods.

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What is Telework?

Telework is an available option which can be used to create a flexible work environment. The County defines telework as work conducted by an employee at a work site other than a County office or other County location.

The County recognizes the benefits of telework, including:

  • Increasing the County’s ability to provide essential services during/following an emergency;
  • Reducing the need to travel particularly if travel and roads have been compromised from an event;
  • Creating flexibility so employees can still be productive if schools are closed;

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Section II - Department Telework Programs

Department temporary telework programs (Programs) should identify the functional program areas and staff positions where telework will be both practical and beneficial. All Programs must ensure that the terms and conditions of employment for the temporary teleworker (employee) and the manager/supervisor remain unchanged. Most notably, performance expectations, schedule for telework hours, overtime, compensation and vacation schedules must conform to existing County, Department and/or temporary telework related policies, guidelines and procedures, as well as the provisions within the respective Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) or Salary Resolution.

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Telework Program Roles and Responsibilities

Below are the standard roles and responsibilities for Department Heads, managers/supervisors, employees (teleworkers), and the County Human Resources Department, with respect to temporary teleworking in the County.

Department Heads

  • Examine department operations and identify areas where temporary telework will be successful;
  • If operationally feasible, establish a temporary program in the department which adheres to all applicable County and department policies and procedures;
  • Ensure managers and supervisors are advised of department Temporary Telework Guidelines, the use of Temporary Telework Agreements, and the ISD process to request VPN access; and
  • Approve or deny (or have designee approve/deny) Temporary Telework Agreements.

Managers and Supervisors

  • Educate prospective and current employees about the Temporary Telework Guidelines;
  • Recommend Temporary Telework Agreements and ensure documentation and/or verifications are provided;
  • Obtain approval of the Department head or designee for all Temporary Telework Agreements;
  • Inform teleworkers that failure to comply with established County and department policies and procedures, as well as teleworker requirements, may result in ending the Temporary Teleworker Agreement;
  • Provide specific, measurable, and attainable performance expectations for the teleworker, such as specific assignments, corresponding deadlines, and the quality of the work expected;
  • Monitor teleworkers’ ability to deliver on performance expectations, assignments, deadlines, as well as quality and quantity of work;
  • Periodically review telework schedules;
  • Maintain copies of all signed Temporary Telework Agreements; and
  • Coordinate with department IT and fiscal staff regarding potential budget impacts (special IT equipment, IT services, etc.)

Employees

  • Confirm that current position has been identified by the department as a position suitable for temporary telework;
  • Submit a Temporary Telework Agreement form;
  • For employees, other than in Human Services and the Water Agency, submit an ISD service request to enable VPN access via the ISD Service Catalog portal: and
  • For Human Services and Water Agency employees, please contact your IT division regarding VPN access

When temporary telework is determined to be a viable work option, employees must work with their supervisor/manager to:

  • Record and report all time worked accurately.
  • Acquire the skills necessary to meet Department requirements and operate independently from a telework site;
  • Establish and maintain an acceptable and safe telework space;
  • Develop and follow an agreed upon telework schedule as documented in a Temporary Telework Agreement;
  • Adhere to all County and department policies and procedures regarding information security;
  • Maintain the same communication standards applicable within the office environment (i.e. checking voicemails, emails, work queues, etc. on a regular basis);
  • Report any workplace/security incidents immediately to their manager/supervisor;
  • Report any improperly functioning, damaged, lost, or stolen County-issued equipment assigned to the teleworker.
  • Comply with tax laws (The County is not responsible for substantiating a teleworker's claim of tax deductions for operation of a home office used to perform work. Employees should seek advice from a tax advisor concerning home office deductions);

Human Resources Department

  • Assist County departments in implementing Temporary Telework Guidelines;
  • Provide information, resources and tools on Occupational Health and Safety and Ergonomic Office Standards;
  • Maintain and update the County's Temporary Telework Guidelines.

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Complete a Temporary Telework Agreement

Once the employees have been identified, they, with their supervisor/manager can complete a Temporary Telework Agreement (PDF: 366 kB).

The Department reserves the right to cancel a Temporary Telework Agreement at any time and for any reason.

All County-owned equipment issued to an employee in order to telework must be returned immediately upon the end of his/her telework arrangement.

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Other Considerations for Teleworking

Information Security

Security of confidential information is of great importance to the County. Teleworkers, like all County employees, are expected to adhere to all Countywide and department policies and procedures regarding information security. For more information, see the County Information Technology Security Policy.

Supplies, Equipment, and Costs

The costs associated with telework are primarily the responsibility of the teleworker/employee. However, the County will provide standard office supplies (pens, paper, pencils, etc.) and in some instances may provide equipment or software, if feasible and approved by the department.

Work Related Injury While Teleworking

In the event an employee suffers a work-related injury while teleworking, workers’ compensation laws apply just as they would if such an injury occurred in the office. Employees are to follow County policy for reporting work injuries by notifying their manager/supervisor immediately and completing all necessary documents regarding the injury. Contact your department Human Resources liaison for further information.

The County assumes no liability for injuries that occur outside of the performance of the employee’s duties and/or outside of the employee’s scheduled telework hours. Employees are liable for injuries to third parties (I.e. family members, other non-County employees, etc.) that enter the designated work space.

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