As employees long for more flexible work environments, telecommuting has become a hot topic and some employers still doubt its viability. However, the number of companies that allow their employees to telecommute appears to be rising year after year. Currently, 34 million people “occasionally” telecommute, and this number is expected to increase to 63 million by 2016. Based on the upward trend and success, that number will only continue to grow.
Many businesses, including Google and Intel, have proved telecommuting can be successful. But, how do you know whether or not it will be successful for your business?
Here are three questions to ask when considering a telecommuting policy:
1. Does Telecommuting Make Sense?
Before you make the big leap, you must first determine if telecommuting is ideal for your company’s and employee’s needs. Employers must carefully consider if allowing employees to telecommute makes sense. When deciding, truthfully ask and answer these questions:
• Will offering a telecommuting program make my employees more efficient?
• Will it make them happier?
• Will telecommuting hurt my business by allowing employees to work from home?
However, if you’re still on the fence about letting your employees telecommute, consider the following:
• Employees who work remotely seem to be slightly more engaged than those who work in an office according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report.
• Productivity increase by an average of 9.5 to 13 percent per employee, and they report working more hours.
• Employees are much happier and more likely to stay with a company that allows them to work from home.
Overall, the feedback from companies and employees about telecommuting has been extremely positive. Take that into account when you’re making your decision.
2. Who is Eligible Within the Company?
Not everyone is capable of working remotely. Here a few things, according to Business News Daily, you should take into consideration when deciding whether certain employees should be allowed to telecommute:
• How comfortable is the employee with their position?
• How long has the employee been at the company or in their role?
• What has their job performance been like?
• How frequently should they be allowed to work from home?
Answering these questions will help you determine who is eligible and also help you identify any additional criteria you should use to determine if and when employees can work from home.
3. How Do I Create an Effective Telecommuting Policy?
If the benefit is offered, a formal policy should still be created for employees so expectations are clear. And, as your company grows, you will most likely need to change and edit the policy to ensure it continues to support collaboration in your business. Be sure to include these regulations in the policy:
• Expectations of schedule and availability.
• Primary communication methods.
• When it is acceptable to telecommute and when employees are expected to be in the office.
• Result if productivity is reduced.
• Insurance and security policies.
• When employees are eligible and what options they have.
Creating an effective policy will ensure there are no miscommunications and expectations are clear.
What Remote Workers Need to Be Successful
No matter what your policy looks like, one thing is certain: you must provide remote workers with the appropriate tools so they can perform their jobs effectively. These tools include shared drives, communications platforms and more. The most important tool in their arsenal, however, is an audio and video conferencing solution, which will support collaboration between employees, teams and departments. Invest in a quality solution to ensure connectivity and productivity.
To learn more about creating an effective remote work experience or improving one, read our article, “Improving Your Remote Work Experience”. For more information on best practices, view our infographic, Tips and Best Practices for Working Remotely.