Adopting a telecommuting policy is a great way for a workplace to improve productivity and work-life balance, while also expanding the geographical area over which potential employees can be recruited. Indeed, working from home on a regular basis appears to be quite popular among large swaths of the professional workforce – especially at firms where most work is done on computers.
A recent survey by Telework Research Network found that between 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day per week. In addition, 15 to 20 million spend at least 10 hours per week away from both the office and their homes. If you hope to employ these people, it is important to have policies in place to ensure that the arrangement works for everyone.
Here are some tips for managing your telecommuters:
- Set expectations ahead of time. When employees are not under the direct observation of their supervisors, there can be confusion over what, exactly, is expected on a daily basis. For instance, one of the big draws of telecommuting is flexibility of work hours. Supervisors should assume that their remote workers will not always be working 9-5. It’s still important to let them know when they are expected to be available during the day to avoid confusion down the road.
- Use video conferencing and other communication apps to keep them involved. A strong workplace is one where everyone gets to know each other and works well together. This can be more challenging when some employees are not regularly present in the office. CIO recommends using technology to keep everyone in contact. Video conferencing is a great way to include telecommuters in meetings, while chat programs like Slack help co-workers communicate throughout the day.
- Trust, don’t micromanage. At the end of the day, you should only hire people to work remotely if you can trust them to do their job with minimal supervision. Once you have the right people in place, you have to follow through by giving them the space they need to work while avoiding the temptation to establish complicated reporting systems. Judge your remote employees by the results they generate.