How often should mobile employees or telecommuters be expected to check
This is one of those "there is no right answer" questions. The issue
isn't so much how often, but how well the mobile employee and his/her
manager, co-workers, or customers agree on what that frequency should be.
If the employee thinks that once every four hours is enough, and the boss
thinks that once every hour is enough, they will be headed for problems.
There's no objective way to say if once every hour vs. four hours is
correct, but when there is no discussion/negotiation about desired
frequency, problems will occur.
One factor to consider is how easy it will be for the mobile worker to
actually connect - unless you're using cellular modems, the employee will
have to find somewhere to plug in a phone jack and get the mail. Depending
on how difficult that is, and how much time it takes away from whatever the
employee is supposed to be doing (e.g., selling, service, etc.) it may meet
the goal of checking mail often but at the expense of customer service.
Some email systems have the option of coding messages for urgency, and the
triggering a pager - the same as some voice mail systems have. An ideal
situation might be to have the mobile worker check mail once every 4 hours
(for example) but if he/she gets a page saying there's an urgent message
waiting, that much be retrieved within 15 or 30 minutes.
Last, you need to think about the difference between day and night,
weekday and weekend, work time and vacations/holidays. The expected
connection frequency should probably apply to agreed-upon work hours (e.g.,
7 am to 7 pm weekdays) and there might be less-frequent connection
expectations for those other periods, going all the way down (ideally) to
no connection while on vacation.