Telecommuting has become a popular option for many businesses. This option allows individuals to work from a variety of locations instead of being restricted to one office. Instead of having to commute to the office every day, employees are able to log into work through telecommuting software to complete their tasks. When you follow these telecommuting best practices, this can be an effective option for your employees.
Do Telecommuters Always Work at Home?
While most people associate telecommuting with working at home, this is not always the case. There are three types of alternative work environments:
- At-Home Offices – A home office can include everything from a desk with some office supplies to a separate room in a home that is equipped with all the comforts of a traditional office, including a fax machine, dedicated phone line, computer and high-speed Internet access.
- Satellite Offices – Some employers offer satellite offices placed in strategic locations to provide their employees with shorter commute times.
- Neighborhood Work Centers – Instead of leasing an entire office, some areas offer neighborhood work centers where employers can rent out a few desks and allow local employees to telecommute from these spaces instead of coming into the office every day.
What to Consider
If you are considering offering one of these options to your employees, you must consider a number of factors and telecommuting best practices to ensure success. Critical technology issues, such as security, access, reliability and support, are some of the most important considerations. However, you must also consider issues, including employee fairness, maintaining workplace culture and protecting your corporation from legal ramifications. If you want your telecommuting program to be a success, you need thorough communication, technology standardization, well-defined processes, corporate support, ongoing training and robust implementation tools. When your program is planned out ahead of time and implemented and managed well, it is more likely to succeed.
Before you get started, ask the following questions:
- Who is allowed to telecommute and when? Determine which jobs are easily transitioned into telecommuting. Work with the supervisors and managers who will oversee the implementation to make this determination. They should also be involved in the decision of how often individuals may telecommute.
- What rules are needed to promote computer use and data safety? Will the company supply computers for employees or will they connect from their own computers? Review your insurance coverage if you will supply the computers. Consider whether employees may own computers capable of handling your company’s processes as well.
- Consider additional factors, such as addressing union and insurance concerns, data security, budget and management concerns. You should also consider the issues of social isolation, home distractions, lack of support services and decreased visibility with your employees and whether they can handle these issues effectively. Make sure all policies are in writing so there is no confusion.
Times have changed. With technology, the economy, environmental and health concerns, and legal conditions, it is sometimes best for companies to offer telecommuting options to their employees. However, sometimes telecommuters can raise new legal issues with companies so it is important to evaluate everything before getting started. Careful planning and management are essential to ensuring success. With effective management, the benefits of telecommuting far outweigh any challenges that arise.