Telecommuting

Definition: The practice of working from home for a business and communicating through the use of a personal computer equipped with modem and communications software

If you were to find a way to retain premier talent, reduce overhead expenses and punch up sales productivity, you'd likely do somersaults of glee, yes? One way to potentially achieve all three is to allow some of your employees to work from home. Take a look at the following considerations to see if telecommuting workers make sense for your enterprise.

Here are the advantages:

  • Help you retain talent. For many employees, eradicating the daily commute and required cubicle time can keep them happy enough to stay with your company long term. The flexibility of working remotely can be the difference between keeping and losing your best employees."
  • Boost productivity. By letting your employees work from home, you're helping them avoid a hectic--and often distracting--work environment.
  • Gives you access to a larger pool of talent. Setting up an infrastructure to support telecommuting employees allows managers to hire the best person for the job, regardless of location. Telecommuting options can also help you retain top talent if an employee needs to relocate.
  • Results in overhead savings. Since your employees should spend very little time stationed at the office, you can pocket substantial overhead savings from letting employees work from home.

Here are the disadvantages:

  • Isolation. Managers must know each employee's personality and how often to keep in contact with that person. You might want to use webinars and teleconferences to provide opportunities for team interaction. And have them come in to the office occasionally for everything from training to holiday parties
  • Micromanagement. Telecommuting can fail if employees require constant supervision, which is much more difficult, if not impossible, with remote employees. To avoid getting stuck doing more work with telecommuting employees, beware of hiring anyone who has a track record of needing constant interaction with a manager in order to get the job done.
  • Accountability. The biggest impediment to managing a remote workforce is accountability. It can be hard to tell if workers are actually working or just sitting around the house watching TV in their pajamas. It's imperative to ensure accountability by setting up processes to monitor performance, including daily contact and activity reports.
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