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Why Your Staff Should Work from Home

By: SmallBizClub

 

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In 2013, Forbes published an article which revealed that a staggering 20% of Americans work from home. Consequently, if accurate, this means that approximately 30 million of us conduct business from outside the office.

Furthermore, that number was expected to increase by more than 60% within the next five years.

Despite some companies arguing that working from home is impractical, traditional offices are soon becoming a thing of the past. Although the study mentioned above proves this, further evidence can be found within your own workplace—if you already don’t have a work from home policy in place, I’m betting that you or staff members have at least thought about it.

Should staff work from home?

It has been argued that many employers don’t trust their staff members to work from home, but they will have to embrace the modern world sooner rather than later. Instead of reacting with paranoia and suspicion, they should consider the potential benefits. For example, employers who let staff work from home could:

  • See improvements in staff retention. This is especially true for mothers or parents who might need to look after children.
  • Have more motivated employees.
  • Save money by not having to provide a large office.
  • Recruit from disabled specialists. For example, those who have no choice but to work from home might target your company when searching for employment.
However, working from home is not without its risks. Potentially, employees could become distracted, may feel isolated or apathetic, and it can be quite challenging to monitor if they’re actually getting work done. Consequently, managers must not jump straight into a work from home program. Instead, they should provide—or instruct employees to provide—several things before even considering it.

Essential tools for those working from home

 

A laptop

Desktop computers are all well and good, but laptops allow staff members to work from just about anywhere. Furthermore, staff should be encouraged to sign up with a company which provides free Wi-Fi hotspots, such as The Cloud. Consequently, in the event of a power failure or internet malfunction, this means employees can continue working from a coffee shop or restaurant—without any lapses in productivity.

 

A direct landline

Although employees can instruct clients and colleagues to contact them through mobile phone, this raises several concerns. For example, this looks unprofessional, infringes on a person’s privacy, and communications can be cut off by technical glitches or unreliable signals.

Instead, all employees working from home should be provided with a direct landline to the office.

Reliable internet

This almost goes without saying, but reliable, high speed internet is absolutely essential for those working from home. To ensure that staff have access to this, managers should instruct employees to conduct an internet speed test at home and report back with the results.

Furthermore, they should supply a list of backup options for when their connection fails, this could include nearby coffee shops or other establishments with free Wi-Fi.

Dropbox and Skype

These tools deserve a special mention as they are both crucial to smooth operations. Dropbox is a free service which allows staff members to share files from any location. Consequently, this allows for reliable transfers, quick edits, and a fast exchange of ideas.

An online chat system is also an essential part of working from home as this allows individuals to coordinate ideas and quickly answer questions. While there are many providers, it is definitely worth considering Skype—mainly because most people are already using it.

Performance management tools

To ensure employees are focused on the task, staff members should be provided with performance management software. For example, 7Geese allows employers—and staff—to set goals and targets.

Although this empowers colleagues to see how others are performing, it also allows employers to recognize people for excellent work. Consequently, this could create a competitive atmosphere amongst individuals.

A gym membership

This sounds strange but working from home often breeds inactivity. As a result, a gym membership is absolutely vital to keep employees fit and healthy.

The office is dead—time to abandon it

 

Working from home is not for everyone’s tastes, but there are plenty of opportunities to trial this program and evaluate its merits. If all goes well, your staff will hopefully be happier, more motivated, and delivering better results in no time.

Author: Tom Chapman is a Content Specialist at Vertical Leap, a content marketing, SEO, PPC, and social media company based in Portsmouth, UK.

Published: September 5, 2014
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