Navigating remote working options

In a time when thousands of workers who have rarely worked remotely find themselves logging on from home, organisations without a formal telecommuting programme may be wondering how they can launch one

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Robert Half

Ask for feedback

Telecommuting is the umbrella term used to describe the practice of working from home, making use of the internet, email, and the telephone. While general approval of a telecommuting plan for your organisation must come from upper management, employees should be invited to play a role in choosing the specifics. Employees know which job functions are most suitable for telecommuting and, therefore, are in the best position to customise the programme. Questions they might consider when evaluating practice include: is this position really suited to independent work? Does the job require a lot of face time that video conferencing alone can’t support effectively? What impact, if any, would there be on our teamwork, and even our organisational culture, if several employees telecommuted regularly?

Invest in the right technology

At the heart of successful telecommuting programmes you’ll find workers using the latest technology tools to their advantage. Slack, Google Hangouts and Skype for Business are some of the platforms that telecommuters can use to keep in touch throughout the day, and file-hosting services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or an in-house system, can support their collaboration and information-sharing in real-time.

Set equal standards

Managing telecommuters can be tricky. Telecommuting employees need to feel confident that their managers believe they will work as hard as they would in a regular office, including keeping similar hours and maintaining productivity. When it comes to quality and deliverables, there should be no difference between the work an employee produces at your office or while they’re telecommuting. So, set equal standards for on-site and off-site professionals in areas such as client service, office hours and response times for emails and ‘phone calls. You also might want to set ‘core hours’ when all employees are required to be accessible.

Maintain team spirit

Make sure to help telecommuters and other remote employees feel like they’re part of the team. Make an extra effort to keep telecommuters ‘in the loop’ on company and department news. Also, bringing your whole staff together can help to build camaraderie and team spirit so try scheduling at least one big video conference on a quarterly basis using a group-friendly platform.

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