Employees love to work from home. It eliminates the dreaded commute and it allows for a healthier work-life balance. From the company perspective, it reduces the need for office space, provides flexibility, and makes you a competitive employer. However, since telecommuting employees are vastly different from employees working in the office, you need to manage them differently. With more distractions around and less supervision, there is the potential for telecommuting employees to be less productive. Here are some strategies to help you make telecommuting work for your business:
Determine if it’s the right fit.
Does telecommuting make sense for the jobs at your company? Can the tasks adequately be completed remotely and without oversight? Would telecommuting work for your employees? Are they trustworthy, independent and sufficiently motivated? Keep in mind that many excellent employees are not capable of effectively working from home.
What are your expectations of telecommuting employees? Should they be online and working at specific times? Should they always be available during office hours to accept phone calls? If they have children at home, should they have another person there to care for them? Or are you only interested in whether or not the employees complete their work on time? It is essential that you are clear about your expectations of your employees.
Have regular meetings.
Accountability is key with telecommuting employees. With so many distractions around, even the most motivated employee can get off track. When you have regular check-ins, your employees know that they will have to take responsibility for their progress (or lack of) and that alone can be a strong motivator. Additionally, regular meetings allows you to better keep on top of what is happening in your company and make changes as needed.
Utilize instant messaging.
Even if you are taking a hands-off approach with your telecommuting employees, you may it helpful to encourage the use of instant messaging. When you have all of your employees plugged in at the same time, for at least part of the day, issues can be addressed immediately and you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.
When considering telecommuting, your first reaction might be that it’s not worth the trouble. However, while there may be a bit of a learning curve, most employers have found that their telecommuting employees are actually more productive. The reality is that telecommuting is the way of the future. Providing employees with a flexible work environment will make you a more attractive employer, which will benefit your business.
(Written by: Karen Bivand, photo courtesy of “Marin” via freedigitalphotos.net)