Article Tags : employees . manage a business . managing employees . work from home . work remotely . working remotely . working remotely from home
Do you allow employees to work remotely? If not, maybe it’s time to reconsider your view. I am in favor of it, simply because it makes employees happier. Still hesitant?? There are plenty of not-so-soft-hearted reasons to enable virtual work. Here are three:
1. Working from home is considered a ‘luxurious” perk among almost any employee.
Working from home appeals to just about everyone whether your employees are commuters suffering long hours in big city traffic, or made up of busy parents with child-rearing problems. You can use it as a motivational carrot. Microsoft Small Business Resources claims that in 2010, 72 percent of employees say they prefer working from home — and 52 percent say they’re more productive working there.
2. Your company makes more money with remote workers.
The Telework Coalition data shows that businesses save an average of $20,000 annually for each full-time remote employee. What about that as a perk for you as a business-owner. Not only you save money but have a happier and more productive worker.
3. Working from home increases productivity.
Telework Coalition research shows the average business incorporating remote workers saw employee productivity rise 22 percent. We are telling you this so you do not think your staff is imagining things when they claim working from home improves their productivity – or lying to you.
Should you decide to create a remote work policy, I highly recommend you give it much thought and plan it in detail.
When you’re ready to do it, follow these steps unless you come up with something even better:
* Step 1: Develop a plan. Define who will be eligible? Are certain employees able to work from home full time? Do you allow others to have the option to do so part time? Are there any specific days, hours “off limits” for working at home? Is there certain criteria such as performance target before your staff earns these privileges? Figure out what is fair and reasonable before you start anything.
* Step 2: Get the right tools. Ensure your staff has what they need to accomplish what you need them to do. My guess is everyone probably has most of the technology they need to work at home, but if not, take care of it (i.e smartphones, headsets or inexpensive webcams). A simple but very important step is to make sure everyone’s email systems and IM work in harmony since these are necessary communication tools for any home workers.
* Step 3: Explore free or low-cost online options. There are more than enough options than ever for working in teams online. For example Google Docs, project management options like BaseCamp, or Skype for conference calls and videoconferencing. As cloud computing becomes more commonplace, your options will expand.
* Step 4: Communicate. Do not underestimate the possibility of miscommunications and misunderstandings happening more easily and more often when your employees aren’t under the same roof. Set clear guidelines for how people should communicate. You can surely use tools like IM to stay on top of things, but there is time to get offline and pick up the phone. Many bigger corporations use Skype conference calls as a faster way to resolve complex issues than a massive e-mail chain.
* Step 5: Trust, but verify. Out of sight, out of mind. Ensure your employees are doing what they say they’re doing is by monitoring results. If your specific goals, time lines and benchmarks aren’t met, have a talk with that person to find the source of the problem. If you are a very untrusting soul, you may comsider using a software that lets you monitor your employees’ e-mails, keystrokes and Web surfing or screen-capture their computer activity. You can also require employees to check in at a certain time. In some instances these options MAY undermine trust and backfire on you, but you must decide what works for you.
However, it’s imperative to get some face time with remote workers. Depending on how much your staff works from home, you may want to set one day each week when everyone has to be in the office or a meeting once or twice a month. I think it also pays off to encourage employees to get together informally to brainstorm and come up with great ideas.