While there are many potential advantages to telecommuting for your business’s employees, there are also many things you need to consider and work out before setting up any arrangements. These include both personal and technical considerations, and will go a long way toward determining whether telecommuting is a good option for your employees. It’s also important to make sure your employees think about these issues, too. While telecommuting might work well for some, it might not be as good for others.
Personality and Work Style
The simple fact is that some employees might be able to succeed while telecommuting, but others will struggle. Each individual has a unique personality and work style, and these differences affect whether telecommuting is a good option for them. Some people can be very successful working away from the office. These people will be self-motivated, well-organized, and independent enough to work without needing constant supervision and reminders to stay on task. After all, a telecommuter still needs to work the same amount of time and complete the same work as an employee in the office. Performance requirements are not lifted just because a worker is able to stay at home and schedule work around other appointments. People who thrive on social interaction and collaboration might find telecommuting a struggle, losing focus when on their own. The ability to work outside of a fixed office social structure is key to successful telecommuting.
Home Office Situation
If someone is going to work from home, then there needs to be an atmosphere conducive to work in the home. Individuals have differing levels of tolerance for background activity, but there needs to be a space that works for the individual. Employees need to remember that working from home doesn’t mean getting to play with the kids all day. Small children require a lot of attention, and might be too distracting for an employee to complete their full day’s work. Tell workers to set aside specific times as work times, not allowing themselves to get distracted by other concerns. They’re still at work, and so they need to dedicate their time to working, and not half-working, half-other concerns. Family and friends should know that work time is for work. That time can be flexible to fit the employee’s work style and schedule, but it needs to be consistent and focused.
At the same time, employees need to be aware of the opposite problem. When working from home, that also means that home is a place of work. While employees need to set aside time for their work, they also need to establish limits to that time, so that the work doesn’t come to consume their entire lives. Telecommuters might begin to feel overworked and burn out. Ideally, the work space should be someplace separate, which can be closed off when work hours are over. That helps avoid either extreme: when in the work space, other concerns stay out, and when out of the work space, work doesn’t seep in.
Technology is constantly improving, and there are many easy options that make telecommuting simple. Depending on the type of work and data you need, you’ll need different equipment. Don’t forget to include the same kind of security measures that you would use at the office, such as passwords and hardware and software controls. Above all, telecommuters need access to the same resources at home that they would have at the office. This means access to software, servers, and data files. Check with your software manufacturer to see what you need to do to license workers to use their software at home.
To keep telecommuters and office employees on the same page, have a good system of communication. Scheduling regular, in-person meetings is one possible solution. There is technology that can get around these, though. You can set up videoconferencing tools for your telecommuters to set up meetings and regular communication, or use interactive whiteboard technology. Make sure that each telecommuter has all the hardware and software they need for whatever option you choose, and communication can thrive.
Setting up a telecommunications policy takes careful thought, but it can be very beneficial to your business if you take the time to do it right. Give your employees options, so that those workers who need the office environment to succeed can stay, while those who thrive on their own can be in the best situation form themselves. This arrangement will help you get the most out of each individual worker.