Is telecommuting right for your business?

The rapid technological evolution has redefined the traditional working model  by making the once unrealistic work options not only possible but also very likely to function well. Telecommuting is the most widely considered product of this evolution. And while many of its benefits are unquestionable, one also has to consider difficulties that come with these arrangements.

Some statistics confirm that telecommuting increases productivity, brings savings,  and helps to attract and keep talents on board, while other sources alarm that work culture falls apart if the team members aren’t physically in the office and that people who would rather work from home, can’t be serious about their careers. Here’s a little round up of things to regard before you include telecommuting as an option in your hiring package, or completely turn your back on it.

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  1. It may really pay off – The online job search provider polled nearly 950 tech professionals and found that just over a third of them would accept a 10% pay cut if given the opportunity to work full-time from home. According to Dice.com, that equates to an average $7,800 decrease in salary.
  2.  Demand far exceeds supply. Tech professionals often times love to work from home and yet full-time jobs that allow telecommuting are hard to come by. Being one of the few businesses that offer telecommuting as an option, increases your chances in attracting top talents.
  3. Increased productivity, but not for everyone. While telecommuting may greatly improve the productivity of employees working form home, it can also have a negative impact  on the On- Site employees and in some cases drive them away. Issues such as difficulty in effective communication between on-site employees and employees working remotely, as well as the resentment problem, need to be well thought through and addressed.
  4. Learn to trust. With telecommuting, you’ll have to learn to focus on the results and not on the process. You can’t have an employee telecommute, and then spend each hour worrying about whether he is actually working. Gil Gordon, a New Jersey-based author of two books on telecommuting, says: “It’s much more important that the telecommuter got that budget revision to you at 8 a.m. Wednesday, than it is to worry about whether he or she was watching TV at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.”
  5. And yet, have ways of making sure expectations are met. Developing measures of progress and work evaluation is essential for telecommuting to be successful. Clearly stated tasks and deadlines, as well weekly reports are usually effective. You’ll also want to use e-mail or scheduled phone conversations, to ensure not only that the task or project is completed but also that the work is meeting expectations.
  6. Cohesive corporate culture. Maintaining a cohesive work culture with  employees working from home can be challenging, but it is not impossible. The key is making the most face-to-face time possible.  Major meetings, company events and outings should be scheduled in advance to allow the telecommuters  to be there in person.
  7. Smooth Project management. Assure that all of the commuting employees have easy access to internal documents, project checklist, and other resources, so they can stay involved and contribute like other team members. (Intranet, Extranet etc.)
  8. Half-way is not always a bad idea. Even if you prefer your employees not to telecommute on the full-time bases, it’s still good to give it a try under certain circumstances (In this case, it is important to establish clear guidelines  for when and how long telecommuting is acceptable):

a)  A minor illness, such as a cold, that makes working from home a safer option.

b) When a deadline is pressing an employee can be more productive working at home.

c) Weather or traffic conditions.

d) An employee with a permanent or temporary disability (fracture) is better served by being able to work from home.

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