Q:Some of my staff wants to work from home. Should I let my employees telecommute?
A: It's definitely worth considering. Sure, you're wondering if your employees will be doing laundry on your time, or if they'll be looking for another job, or if they'll be playing with their dogs. The answer is yes, maybe and--yes, unless they have a cat instead. The good news is they will be working in between moments of catching up on Oprah, and if they're falling behind, they'll be sure to catch up on work in the evenings and weekends. Seriously, every telecommuter knows there's a higher standard they need to meet away from the office, and that if they don't perform, they're either going to lose the privilege of working at home or they're going to be fired. So they're going to work, and possibly they'll work harder than ever in order to keep the privilege and lifestyle of operating out of their home office.
If you have a conscientious employee who you know doesn't need to be monitored every moment, why not let him telecommute? There are many good reasons to let him, for at least a few days every week. For starters, it's a rewarding perk that will make you a better company to work for over competitors who don't offer the same thing, and if your employee is happy, he'll likely not to be looking for another job. You may even save a little money, whether it's on energy costs, less office rent, coffee filters for the break room or providing toilet paper for the bathroom.
Finally, there's a very practical and 21st century reason for letting your employees telecommute. If the region in which your headquarters is located is hit with a natural disaster like a hurricane or the power goes out in your building or city, but you have five or 15 or 50 employees spread out across the community, county or even the country, your entire business isn't suddenly out of commission, and all of your data isn't in one place. You suddenly have de facto satellite offices you can work out of and a much better chance of seamlessly weathering whatever obstacles are hurled at your company. And, naturally, once again, for having thought ahead, you look brilliant.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.