Things to Consider Before Allowing Employees to Telecommute

Technology has made businesses much more efficient, but has the time come for us to work in the comfort of our homes? Are business offices an outdated novelty that need no longer exist? Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether your business should allow its employees to work from home. It’s always a tricky subject on how to properly meet that work life balance.

Tracking Performance

telecommute

Image via Flickr by Victor1558

A big problem that many face when considering the switch from working in an office to allowing employees use their home resources is how to track performance. It’s very hard to measure performance, even when your employees are right there in the office with you. Certain metrics are a great way to see the cold, hard facts and figures, but performance can often times be a lot more than just numbers.

If your company has many groups in charge of similar tasks, you can compare performance based on which groups have employees working from home. You can also consider how much work is meeting long-term deadlines. If daily goals aren’t being met but employees are working after hours from home and still meeting deadlines, that might be one of the perks if your employees enjoy it.

Accountability for Work

Once you have set up a measure for how to track performance, another thing to consider is the idea of accountability. How are employees held responsible for not getting work done? What happens if they continue to abuse their virtual relationship with the company?

A great way to combat this problem is by making sure you have clearly outlined exactly what the company’s policies are and what happens if they are broken. Setting up a three-strikes-and-you’re-out system could be very beneficial to everyone in this situation.

Fairness and Equality

Are all of your employees going to be able to telecommute from home, or just some? Is it a departmental thing, or will some employees from all parts of your company be participating? It’s best to keep your entire company happy, not just a few. Make sure to ask each employee what he or she prefers — some actually like to be in a work environment with others. Being alone at home every day for work can make some people very anxious.

Remember:  when you start allowing your employees to telecommute, you also allow the company culture to drastically change. Think long and hard about how this change will affect the work output and the happiness of everyone involved.

Data Security

When you start on your journey of enterprise mobility management, your data might seem like it’s suddenly become a liability. By allowing employees to bring their own devices to and from work or work from home, you need to be careful of any sensitive data staying secure. With the proper preparation, though, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Make sure to create secure passwords and use encryption software on any computer that will be accessing work files. Your employees will also need firewall protection and upped internet security.

Safety and Responsibility

Employees that work from home are still your responsibility in many ways. Depending on the job and the industry, paying a visit to an employee’s home to make sure that their workstation is safe and proper may be in order. Consider doing a few of these assessments:

  • Check the lighting levels
  • Make sure cables and other tripping hazards are safely trailed
  • Test all and any electrical equipment related to the job
  • Assess the entire workstation
  • Train the employee to make sure they will work safely
  • Include training for employee to record accidents as they happen

Client Interaction

If your clients visit your business often, you may need to have employees at their desks to fully accommodate your clients. This is one of those situations where, regardless of how technologically updated your company becomes, there may not be room for your enterprise to grow in this direction.

Make sure that you are fully aware of what kind of role and relationship your employees will play in your clients’ lives. You may want to consider keeping your workforce in-house — at least the employees who need to interact with clients on a daily basis.

Setting Up

You will also have to consider what it will take to set your employees up at home. If your employees have complex responsibilities — even if they believe they can handle it from home — you may have to help them set their workstation up.

They will most likely need a desk and a chair with a computer. Dedicated phone lines are a plus to make sure you can keep in close contact when you need to, and a printer is also a very basic requirement for work at home.

Testing the Waters

Sometimes, no matter how much you research and consider, you will still have situations you would have never thought about without just doing. Testing the waters with a trial period will help you to make a better, more educated decision.

You may only start with a very small group while you figure out how to measure productivity, performance, motivation, and your employees’ output, in general, before making it a big part of your company.

The Positives

Of course, with all there is to worry about, there are a lot of great perks that come with telecommuting. With great risk comes great reward. Some of the positives dont’ just affect your employees, either. For instance:  yes, your employees may feel less stressed and much happier — but you also will have less in-house employees, significantly reducing building and rental fees.

According to an article on engagedleadership.com, employees were also willing to earn 5-7% less if they could work from home. Add this to the fact that employees also pay for their own office supplies, and you have a lot of savings for your small business right away.

With the increase in technological savvy-ness, it seems that many have already started making the switch to working from home. It’s not wise to rush into such a big decision, even if you want to make your workers as happy as you can. While it’s noble to want to give your employees this option, consider all of the different ways it will affect your business.



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