As the digital revolution marches on we’ve become more connected, but it has also become easier for us to be a part. Couples in long distance relationships rejoice! However, it’s also become easier for businesses to allow employees to work from home, whether they live across town or across the world.
The benefits of an arrangement like this are significant for both you, and your employees or colleagues. Getting to work from home is a huge boon for anyone with a long commute, and the lessened overhead lets businesses free up some funds for other projects or company goals. Thankfully, new tools and technologies that facilitate this sort of remote-work are becoming available all the time.
Most businesses of any size already take advantage of file sharing and collaboration programs like Dropbox or Basecamp, but there are a plethora of other options out there. And of course, there’s the technological advancements in things like VoIP that make working from home an easier, more attractive option.
A cloud-based PBX service allows Voice Over IP calls to be routed to anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This makes the digital nomad lifestyle easier for those workers who are so inclined, but perhaps more importantly it allows business owners the opportunity to hire the very best employees from around the world, rather than the best employees within easy commuting distance. This alone should be enough to get business owners interested in hiring remote workers or allowing current employees to work from home, but there are other benefits as well. Benefits of Letting Employees Telecommute.
The chief benefit of letting employees work from home is an increase in their quality of life. Studies have shown that working from home actually provides a substantial boost to happiness and productivity. And of course happier workers means a moreloyal workforce. Job hopping is becoming increasingly popular, especially among millennials, so it’s more important than ever to provide some additional benefits beyond just increasing salaries. Telecommuting, even if it’s just a few days a week, can provide employees with more incentive to stay than even a pay bump in some cases. This is because telecommuting allows employees to do things like…
– Avoid a commute
– Spend more time with their family
– Work when they are most productive
– Schedule their time more effectively
– Work from anywhere (accounting on the beach, anyone?)
These benefits can offer additional incentives to employees that encourage them to do better work, and to stick around when they might otherwise pursue work elsewhere. And the best part? Letting employees work from home costs you nothing. Yes, there are programs and technologies that make telecommuting easier to manage, but at the end of the day, the additional savings like lower overhead and workers that are perhaps willing to work for a lower salary in exchange for the increased flexibility, will far outweigh the costs of anything you need for a smooth telecommuting setup. Setting Up A Multi-Office or Telecommuting Workplace.
First, let’s define some terms.
Multi-Office: This is any arrangement where you have multiple offices coming together to work on the same tasks. This is a bit different from having local or regional offices, in that you are dividing tasks.
Telecommuting: As we’ve discussed, telecommuting or remote work is an arrangement where you have workers performing tasks from home (or another location altogether) via the internet.
If you want to allow your employees to work from somewhere other than your central office, there are a few things you need to do to make the new arrangement work.
1) Put Together a Workflow Plan
This looks different for each industry niche, but it’s important for every company or organization to have one. It is especially important for companies with a multi-office setup or ones with a large number of telecommuting employees to have a clearly delegated and well-organized plan in place for how work is going to be accomplished. This is also a key time to decide whether or not remote-work is a good fit for your company. A good workflow sets expectations and includes things like:
– Delivery Deadlines
– Points of ContactIndividual and Team Responsibility
– Progress Check-In Dates
– Overall Goals
Having a clear workflow helps to manage new tasks as they come in, and it keeps everyone on the same page when trying get work done. A lack of clear responsibilities and deadlines can kill any remote-work arrangement.
2) Establish a Communication
PlanThis goes hand in hand with putting together a plan for managing your workflow. It’s absolutely critical that lines of communication are clearly laid out early on. You don’t want employees waiting for a call to discuss new projects when you’re planning on emailing details to them. One of the challenges to this kind of setup is to find the right mix of communication tools that fits your unique situation. This is something that takes ongoing effort, and should be frequently reevaluated to make sure everything is communicated clearly between team members. In addition, you’ll also want to establish standards for how your workers communicate with clients. This is especially important if you hire freelancers for customer-facing positions.
If you’re using a file sharing application, it’s important that you manage access control to protect sensitive data, whether it’s your information, or your clients’. You’ll also want to set standards for responsiveness and availability. One of the great pitfalls of letting workers telecommute is the sliding scale of availability. Most remote workers want to benefit from being able to adjust their schedule a little bit, sleep in one day, work late the next. However it’s important that you set a standard for when you need them available for communication, especially when it comes to handling time-sensitive projects.
3) Don’t Be Afraid to Change Things Up
Bringing a second office online, or letting employees work from home can be a nerve-racking experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to monitor remote workers to make sure the tasks you need done get completed. From VoIP phone systems that are hosted remotely, to file sharing programs designed to facilitate better collaboration and maximize productivity. All in all, starting a new program like this can be an extremely rewarding undertaking, and while not for the faint of heart (or the poorly organized), it can take any business to new heights.