Should your company set up telecommuting? This may seem like a straightforward question that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” However, when you really pause to think about it, it’s a lot more complex than initially thought.
There are many things to consider. In particular, three issues must be addressed; let’s take a closer look at each one of these questions:
One – What policy guidelines need to be established?
Although you might assume that every employee would jump at the chance to skip the commute to work and packing their own lunch, not every employee will want to work from home. Some people actually enjoy coming in to the office and like to create a clear distinction between their home and work life. Conversely, others would relish the opportunity to earn a living from home.
How do you pick? Although you can simply ask, what do you do about those who want to work from home but actually need to be in the office to get their work done. They’ll feel miffed and mutter complaints about discrimination or favoritism.
Besides figuring out the human side of the equation, you’ll also have to think about meeting technological needs, ensuring compliance with regulatory policies, and measuring productivity. In addition, communication protocols have to be worked out.
Generally speaking, your policy guideline will be broken up into two main sections:
What Jobs Can Be Done Remotely?
All jobs can’t be done remotely and some jobs can only do done remotely some of the time.
Jobs that can’t be done remotely are those that require social interactions, like managing staff or working with clients.
Jobs that can only be done remotely some of the time include managers who need some quiet time to write reports, work out strategies, or review numbers.
Those jobs that can be done remotely are those where interactions are confined to the telephone and where most of the work involves quiet concentration and computer work.
Who Should Work Remotely?
Employees who need to be continuously given new projects throughout the day, those who need help with their work, or those who need supervision. Some employees might be able to work remotely in the near future, but need more on-the-job training or experience before they can do it on their own.
Tact and compromises may be necessary when discussing the idea with employees who would like to work from home, but, for one reason or another, are not yet ready for it. Tact, of course, is explaining your reasons for your decision without making the employee feel incompetent. A compromise might be subsidizing transportation costs. You may also have the opposite problem—some people would do very well working from home, but they would rather work with other people in an office and not have to deal with domestic issues interfering with their work at home. They may resent the new idea of telecommuting.
In essence, then your policy guidelines will be determining how to manage remote employees and how to manage those who will be working from the office after the new changes have taken place.
Two – How do you set up the technology component?
Technology needs have to be sorted out before you send anyone home. Do employees need a laptop? Do they need VOIP (voice over IP) to talk to clients so that they can still use the office telephone number? Do they need to access the company’s intranet?
Even if someone is working from their home business, routers can be installed in their homes to provide for all their telecommunication needs. Some companies offer high-quality broadband Internet, GigE speeds, and Fixed Wireless, with layers for performance enhancement, security, and advanced monitoring. The provider Skyriver even guarantees GigE speeds for businesses who rely on broadband for their success.
Three – Will it work at all?
There is a difference between theory and practice. Sometimes what works perfectly well on paper will not work in the real world because of unpredictable factors.
The only way to find out is to run small experiments, identify problems, and see if things can be worked out. For instance, employees at home may be less productive than they promised to be. Perhaps, the problem is at the office, where employees who could solve a problem are now at home.
On the whole, the idea of telecommuting has worked out very well for both employers and employees for many companies. If there are a few initial hiccups, there may be simple ways to work things out. The best way to set up a telecommuting program is to lean in to it before fully deploying it.