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Can I visit my telecommuters in their home offices?

Many employers deal with this issue in their telecommuting policies or telecommuting agreements. The right to visit an employee's home office should be clearly stated before telecommuting begins, so the telecommuters know this is a possibility.

There are several points to keep in mind if you're going to make this visit:

You're going for a business purpose - to make sure the office area has been set up safely, to conduct a meeting, etc. You're not going to check for dust, look through the kitchen cabinets, go swimming, etc.

ALL visits to a telecommuter's home must be announced in advance, preferably with at least 24 hours' notice.

We all feel differently about having visitors, let alone co-workers or our manager, come into our homes. Respect these differences and be sure you don't do or say anything to make the telecommuter uncomfortable.

Consider the possibility that a visit by a male manager to a female telecommuter's home (or vice versa) when they will be the only two people in the home may not be a good idea. It creates the potential for the appearance of impropriety, not to mention sexual harassment. The issue is not only the actions or the intent of those involved, but the appearances. Talk with your Human Resources staff for guidance on this issue.

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