More and more often, we talk to clients whose employees are interested in working remotely for at least part of the time. Earlier this week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer sparked quite a bit of controversy when she announced that employees would be banned from telecommuting. According to some, it might not be a bad idea
Is telecommuting a bad move for your business? I think it depends. First of all, it depends on the person who will be working remotely. I worked from home for several years before working with Nexxtep, and I enjoyed the solitude and freedom. Others need face-to-face human interaction to feel happy and productive at work. To be a good telecommuter, one needs to be reliable, self-directed, and comfortable spending hours of time alone each day.
Once you have established that your employee would make a good remote worker, you need to create a suitable environment and establish certain parameters:
Clearly Define Duties and Deadlines
Even the most self-directed remote employee can feel lost without a set of clearly-defined expectations. Provide these expectations as early as possible, and hold your employee accountable for meeting prescribed deadlines.
Communicate as Much as Possible
According to a recent article on Business Insider, “A lot of people hid [at Yahoo]. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody even knew they were still at Yahoo.”
If you want to successfully manage remote employees, you have to be proactive about checking in. You might consider holding a daily web conference and/or weekly in-person meeting (if geography allows). This will help you keep track of your employee’s progress, and will also reaffirm to him that he is still an important part of your team. Google has taken communication a step further. To nurture a collaborative environment, some Google team members sign on to a Google Hangout, and stay connected all day. Instead of having to initiate a phone call or web meeting, a team member can just call out a coworker’s name. I think this is as close as you can get to sharing an office while working remotely.
Provide a Stable and Productive Environment
You can’t do everything to create a stable and productive environment for your remote employee. He should be responsible for designating a suitable, quiet workspace in his home and for keeping distractions to a minimum. You should be responsible for providing the proper equipment and tools.
- A strong, stable, and secure Internet connection.
- Company-owned and managed devices. These devices include the computer, phone, and/or tablets. Even if you do not own the employee’s phone or tablet, your company should still manage the devices if they are being used for work (this applies to on-premise workers as well). “Managing” the device entails providing the necessary software, operating systems and security services, keeping the operating systems and software up-to-date, and having the ability to monitor the device as needed.
- Easy access to company files and systems.
- Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) Phone Systems: With a VOIP phone system, you can plug in your office phone into any ethernet jack in the world and it will coordinate with your company’s phone system in seconds. One of our employees, Gil Morris, works from his home across the country in Phoenix, but I can dial his extension and reach him just as quickly as any other employee in our office building.
The goal with all of these steps is to ensure that your employee’s remote work experience is as close as possible to the experience he would have working in your main office.
Introducing: The Modern Office from Nexxtep
The Modern Office enables employees to work from anywhere, on any device. Learn more in this slide deck:
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- What SMBs Can Learn from the Sony Hacking Incident - January 22, 2015
- Quick Tip: How to Automatically Save Your iPhone Pictures to Flickr - January 2, 2014