Telling someone that you telecommute should no longer make them scratch their head as if they don’t get it. Thirty-seven per cent (37%) of U.S. workers have telecommuted, according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup. The data is largely positive. Employees who work from home are less likely to quit. Studies show that telecommuters put in more hours. Telecommuters have greater enthusiasm about the jobs they do than those who do the same things from desks in their offices. So, is it safe to conclude that every company should try and reap the benefits of having a staff that works remotely? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Your company should first decide if it has what it takes to reap the benefits.
While successful telecommuters often joke that offices are too noisy, only the most self-motivated employees are good candidates for this level of independence. Therefore, it’s important to carefully evaluate staff members who express an interest in reporting to work from a home office. Many cannot work from home successfully. They may have family interactions at home that reduce their focus. They may not have a dedicated area set aside for business-related matters, which can make the tasks they’re expected to complete overwhelming. However, if someone went through one of the many online MBA or other educational programs, or completed other significant training at home, they’re likely a good candidate for telecommuting, since they already have experience in disciplining themselves.
What roles aren’t in-house?
It’s obvious that a reception desk needs someone to physically sit at it during office hours to meet and greet, but not every company has daily contact with its clients and customers. What about everyone else…all the other roles and positions? Depending on your company, accounting, human resources, sales, advertising and IT staff could all stay in touch with each other without physically occupying the same space. It’s safe to say that today’s technology enables a company to be entirely virtual without sacrificing efficiency. That’s why your answer to the next question is key.
Are you technologically ready?
Creating a remotely connected team can be expensive for a large company. It can require investing in and training your staff to use platforms that take time to learn. Small companies are simpler to manage using the latest cloud technology. There are a growing number of apps that enable file sharing in real time or live videoconferencing. Remote workers’ hours can be tracked as if they were punching time cards. Social media has also been playing a greater role in keeping remote teams in touch, but none of these functionalities alone assure that a team will be effective working from separate locations. That’s why vetting is so important. Many employees need the structure of a cubicle, office equipment and interaction with colleagues around them to feel that they’re a part of their company.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. Kara recommends looking into online mba finance programs for more information on finances on and telecommunications in business.