Home Work

Put It To The Test

Besides utilizing the most appropriate technology, it's crucial to put a few procedures in place. Doing so sets protocol and notifies all employees of your policies and expectations for the telecommuting program.

First, insist that all equipment be installed before employees are allowed to begin telecommuting. You don't want to be working out major glitches in the system or have workers cut off from the office because modems and phone lines have yet to be installed.

Key managers must also be trained in how to manage telecommuters. Many managers like the idea of telecommuting--just not for their employees. They often worry about loss of control and their ability to keep a close eye on workers. Explain the benefits of telecommuting to them and the methods for communicating with and monitoring employees. Start out with a small group of telecommuters before full deployment so everyone can ease into the transition.

Developing a written telecommuting policy is key. At ConnexT, potential telecommuters are given a company telecommuting policy that contains an expense sheet, an individual checklist for determining whether their job is suited for telecommuting, a telecommuting agreement that outlines what's expected of them, and a list of the equipment and services the company will provide. Be sure to cover such issues as eligibility for participation, expected work hours, personal use of company-owned equipment and provisions for staying in touch.

Finally, create methods for measuring the effectiveness of your program and evaluating changes in productivity and employee morale. Continue to make adjustments as more employees become integrated into this new working style. Says Bismuth, "We've made a very strategic decision about how we're going to run the company in the future. Once you get started [telecommuting], you have to be committed to making it work."

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This article was originally published in the December 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Home Work.

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