Telecommuting is Increasing
By necessity, employers are becoming more and more flexible when it comes to how their employees work. Job sharing, flex time, creative work hours, and telecommuting are a few methods employers use to improve quality of life and even ease the strain of the current economy for their employees. Many employers are finding these alternatives are good for business, too. Telecommuting is on the rise, with one study showing that the number of people working from home at least one day a month doubled from 2000 to 2005.
Increased technology offerings, like high-speed internet, have made telecommuting much easier than in the past. This will only increase the number of telecommuting workers over the coming decade.
Is Working From Home a Good Idea?
If your employees express a desire to work from home, consider the advantages and disadvantages to your business before you make your decision. Will implementing a telecommuting program ultimately increase or reduce the bottom line? How will working from home affect employee productivity? Will telecommuters take advantage of the situation and cut their output? Analyzing each factor will help you make the best decision regarding telecommuting for your business.
Does Telecommuting Fit Our Business?
There are the obvious “no” answers to this question, such as production-based businesses, food service, or restaurants. If face-to-face interaction is a major function of your business, you need all hands on deck to run it. But if you have a number of employees who are able to perform most or all of their duties without much supervision using only a computer, then your business is a good candidate to consider a work-from-home program.
Does Telecommuting Fit Our Employees?
Not every employee is suited to self-supervision. But workers with proven track records of organization, dependability, and good work habits should be considered for telecommuting.
What Policies Are Necessary?
Take time to implement procedures that work for your business. Often, one-size-fits-all policies found online prove to be inadequate.
How Are Virtual Employees Managed? It’s important to realize that managing employees from afar presents its own set of challenges. Communicating over email or by telephone removes important visual cues that you use in face-to-face communication. Consider video conferencing or an online resource like Skype that will facilitate communication while keeping that important visual contact. When managing virtual employees, it is also vital that you set clear objectives and expectations, monitor performance, and require accountability. Remember to reward and recognize these employees, and find ways to help them feel included in the company. Don’t let out of sight mean out of mind. Employees need to feel appreciated, even if they only “come to work” once a month!
Are We Supplying the Proper Technology? Providing employees with the best technology possible will not only allow them to perform their jobs, it will make them even more productive. From up-to-date software and high speed internet connectivity to a proper desk chair, giving your employees the equipment they need will go a long way toward increasing loyalty, appreciation and work output. And it could improve their quality of life, too.
Telecommuting, while presenting its own challenges, is a fantastic way to reduce the number of cars on the road and thus, your company’s carbon footprint. And if it improves productivity, your employees’ quality of life and your company’s profitability, it’s a win-win-win situation: good for the environment, good for your employees, and good for your company!