Telecommuting: Is It a Do or a Don’t?
The question of whether telecommuting is a good idea or not has been widely debated recently due to unpopular decisions made by Yahoo! and Best Buy. Telecommuting isn't for everyone, but with the right attitude, policies, and communication in place, telecommuters can be as productive, if not more so, than employees who come to the office every day. Here are a few "rules" to keep in mind when creating or evaluating your telecommuting policy.
- It's not for everyone. Telecommuting is a privilege, not a right and employees who are allowed to do it, know it. Make sure you have a solid environment, compensation, and culture in place – otherwise, it won't matter where people work. On the other hand, when well planned, giving people the freedom to work elsewhere can be absolutely productive and great for retention too.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! First and foremost, decide who gets to work from home and make sure everyone is aware of the guidelines and requirements. Secondly, set clear objectives that need to be met – no matter where your employees are working. If goals are not being met, make it clear that the privilege to work at home will be lost. Provide the same level of infrastructure and support needed to reach a high level of performance to those who work remotely that those in the office have. Managers and telecommuters need to keep a high level of communication using all the tools available – email, phone, video, etc.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind. It's easy to forget about people who aren't in the office – especially when news is spread by word of mouth. Be sure to include your remote workers on in-office activities even when they are not scheduled to be in the office. It's important to keep them in the loop and provide them with the opportunity to connect with their co-workers over fun activities such as corporate functions or holiday parties.
- Decrease in Costs. When employees telecommute, overhead costs decrease. Every expense from furniture to rent to utilities goes down. Think about whether you are going to reimburse employees for their increased home office costs. For the small business owner, it's a great way to build your business with lower costs and happier employees.
- Larger Talent Pool. If you offer telecommuting as a benefit, you will have access to a wider range of potential employees. Think of the possibilities if you didn't have to narrow your job candidates by zip code.