Telecommuting is a legitimate tool business employers can use to enhance their workers' job satisfaction and quality of life.
But if you don't know what you're doing, you could be achieving worker satisfaction at the expense of your company's productivity and profitability.
Successful telecommuting arrangements incorporate a carefully crafted telecommuting policy. Your company's telecommuting policy will have to be tailored to your preferences and industry requirements. Even so, there are certain telecommuting mistakes your policy should clearly avoid.
- Incompatibility with the business model. Some business models are more conducive to telecommuting than others. Businesses that require little or no office-based contact with clients are prime candidates for telecommuting. But even then, some staff will have to stay behind and man the office.
- Too much/too little technology. Technology and telecommuting go hand-in-hand. But throwing a bunch of technological resources at a telecommuter doesn't necessarily solve all the problems associated with the work-from-home arrangement. At the same time, you should make sure your employee has enough technological assets and skills to perform their job from home and to adequately communicate with the rest of the team.
- Poorly-defined expectations. As an employer, it's incumbent upon you to clearly communicate your expectations to telecommuting employees. A telecommuting agreement is usually the best way to codify policies and mutual understandings. Somewhere in your agreement you will need to make it abundantly obvious that telecommuting is not a right, but an option that is offered strictly at the discretion of the employer.
- Failure to prepare in-office staff. Employers tend to put a lot of focus into preparing themselves and their telecommuting employees for the transition to a remote workplace. The people that fall between the cracks are the ones that will continue to work in-office. In a telecommuting business, the entire staff should share common expectations about telecommuting workers.
- No trial periods. With telecommuting, walk before you run is always the best policy. If you are just now considering the possibility of making telecommuting an option, consider conducting a pilot program with one or two trusted employees. The lessons you learn from your test run can form the basis of your telecommuting policy–unless you decide to telecommuting isn't such a good idea after all.