Early morning wake-up calls, clocking in, clocking out and office cubicles have been the norm for working Americans, but as technology continues to grow, so do the number of Americans who no longer make the morning commute. Recently even President Obama expressed his support for telecommuting programs. Although the idea of working from home may sound like an employee’s dream, it’s vital to fully assess the pros and cons before incorporating such a program into your company policy.
Since a comfortable, flexible working environment is recognized by potential employees as one of the most important aspects of job choice, telecommuting applied appropriately can be used advantageously by Human Resources professionals. By providing the option to telecommute, companies offer employees a career that fits their lifestyles and can stand out among the competition.
How can your company achieve the best of both worlds and allow employees a flexible schedule with the option to work from home, while still producing the same results as if they were operating in-house? Consider the following, and make sure the benefits are equal for both your employees and your company.
Employee availability – Consider parents who start with an early morning and shut down their computers when their children return home from school. Guidelines allowing such flexibility need to be clear – the hours of availability should be concrete and unchanging for reasons of dependability and accountability.
Virtual communication –Company meetings can still run cohesively without constant face-to-face communication through the comparable use of video conferencing, Skype and other advanced technology.
Distractions – While the office is used for the sole purpose of accomplishing company work, those working in an environment used for sleeping, eating and relaxation must have a higher level of discipline. Character evaluation is imperative before considering telecommuting. Employees who are trustworthy, time-oriented, focused and who work without constant monitoring prove to be strong candidates.
Maintaining office relationships – Creative, original and innovative ideas are often developed through collaboration, so the last thing any company wants is for its employees to operate as noncommunicative islands. With staff not interacting on a day-to-day basis, it’s critical to coordinate events, gatherings or lunches, to maintain a team mentality.
Maintaining company security – When employees have the opportunity to access company content from home, you must provide additional IT protection to staff computers and servers to assure private information is monitored and inaccessible to outsiders.
With the proper protection, procedures and policies in place, many companies see a significant drop in overhead expenses and increased employee satisfaction from incorporating telecommuting. As with any change, it’s important to recognize that telecommuting can only be as successful as the individuals who execute the process. If your company chooses to establish a telecommuting program, plan efficiently, monitor productivity and avoid miscommunication issues.
For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.
Photo source: richardmasoner