Trending in business, as well as being a “hot” topic, is “should we allow employees to work from home – or another remote location?” Depending on the requirements of the position within your firm, telecommuting can be a great option if managed properly.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, made headlines when she called it quits on Yahoo’s telecommuting program. (If you somehow missed it, here is just one of many articles regarding her decision from ComputerWorld.)
Research tells us employee engagement and motivation often increase when remote or telecommuting arrangements are made. The benefits to both the employer and the employee have caused many to question the decision of Mayer.
It’s All About Willingness, Communication & Collaboration
Before considering a telecommuting arrangement with employees, put your ducks in a row by ensuring everyone on the team is on board. Failure of leadership and team support will set your telecommuting employees up for defeat, both personally and for the firm. Once you have established critical team buy-in, develop standard operating procedures including willingness, communication and collaboration guidelines. We reviewed the benefits of the remote worker in our blog “Creating An Ocean View Culture – Is It For You?” Take a look at our resource for further insight regarding managing remote employees.
James DeJulio, the president of Tongal, shares what lessons he has learned from his experience in using thousands of remote staff. “I will never de-emphasize the value of collaboration with team members, but we’re really in an age where collaboration can happen in a lot of ways other than purely physical ones.” I relate to DeJulio’s comment completely. The team at Ironstone works from remote locations across the United States solidifying excellent communication and collaboration can and does take place in many forms through the use of today’s technology. Find the communication tool appropriate for your needs, implement it and use it to your advantage.
Tested Tips For Managing Telecommuting Employees
We have gathered some of the best guidelines and tips from across the board for you to use when implementing and managing remote teams:
- Allow opportunity for remote workers to be physically present when the need arises (establish how often your remote employee will be on location)
- Offer flexibility (allow remote teams to work during their prime hours when possible – this will benefit the firm with increased productivity and engagement)
- Establish measurable performance goals and expectations
- Establish and review boundaries regarding work ethic and discipline
- Hire the right people for telecommuting positions (if a person is merely in it for the money, find a new candidate who desires a career and is motivated by being part of and contributing to the success of your firm)
- Identify challenges and obstacles (when and if challenges or obstacles occur, address them immediately and offer a desirable solution for both your firm and your employee)
Tips For The Telecommuter
Telecommuting requires a lot of discipline and commitment. Here are some tips for the employee who telecommutes for your firm:
- Prepare your workspace (ensure you have all documents, materials and equipment needed)
- Design a healthy at home office (use proper lighting, desks, headsets and an ergonomic adjustable chair)
- Set boundaries (ensure your family members and friends understand that although you work from home, you are working – establish guidelines for interruptions, noise, etc.)
- Be proactive (communicate with your home office on a frequent basis to stay connected)
- Manage your schedule (create a model day template to use as a guide in managing your schedule, tracking your project status and making the results visible to the home office) Download Our Model Day Template Here! Ironstone Model Day Worksheet
- Communicate progress (inform management or your team on the status of your accomplishments, projects and responsibilities – this will remove the barrier, “out of sight, out of mind.”)
- Set reasonable hours (schedule dedicated working hours along with scheduled time away from work – it is important to maintain an appropriate work/personal time balance)
Just as you reward your on-site team, rewarding virtual employees is equally important. Lay the foundation by showing how their work contributes to the big picture. Utilize benchmarks and graphs to measure progress and implement rewards based on performance.
Our firm knows first-hand the benefits of telecommuting. We have implemented processes and procedures for working effectively together with our team from coast to coast.
Question! Do you have team members who work remotely? Share your best practices with us!
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