Telecommuting has become the next big thing in companies, where many employees are looking for alternative options to working directly at the office and in this saving yourself the commute every single day. Now, is this the perfect solution for both sides? It is definitely an innovative way to solving issues that have popped up in the different industries, and has actually had an impact on the environment without even setting out to do so from the beginning. Even though the trend is growing to hire remote employees, it is important to realize how this change will affect your company policies, roles and training.
How to choose employees that get to telecommute?
Choosing the right employees to telecommute is the first step to getting this working style right. You should analyze the employees’ attitude, work ethics and even their personality when considering them for this role, since they should have these traits completely aligned with the needs of an independent and proactive employee. Even though it may sound like living the dream to work from home, it is definitely not cut out for everyone. Some people are not made to be their own boss, and will need that role checking in on them continuously, which would not make them ideal for telecommuting. Those who are made for this kind of job in reality are a very specific type of person, who are able to work from remote locations, outside of the traditional office setting and everything that that entails. Besides this an essential characteristic is that these people have to have a high level of accountability.
The reason people may want to work in this modality may vary, from having small children at home to attend, or simply enjoying the independence and freedom to work from remote locations. Finally, this employee needs to be proactive and have good communication skills, so as to be able to reach out opportunely when necessary and stay in touch with the office. It’s vital your company determine an eligibility guideline so that you can make sure that all the candidates considered for these roles indeed fill all the requirements not only in their profile and personality, but in technical aspects like stable connectivity or equipment.
What to consider once you have telecommuting employees?
Your company needs to consider many aspects to ensure that having telecommuting employees is successful. Firstly, as mentioned before, many employees can take on telecommuting posts thinking it’s the ideal job for them and quickly find an endless list of difficulties and challenges that affect their performance. As a company, it is important to set certain guidelines that can contemplate expectations on both sides and define details about the conditions of working from home such as schedules, responsibilities and meetings or trainings they must attend, either physically or virtually.
As a company, we should recognize the limitations that come with telecommuting jobs like communication, so set up virtual spaces and weekly meetings that will help employees stay connected. At the same time, it’s important to determine which activities cannot be virtual and have to be face-to-face from the beginning. Obviously this type of role will require a high level of trust in employees, but your company regardless should also set up processes that will allow verification and accountability for the different responsibilities that employee has. Of course, having this type of system in place, will save your company money and will lead to happier employees.
On the IT side, your company has to consider what conditions it will offer employees in terms of security, equipment and communication tools. In some companies, they may offer a laptop and VoIP telephone which will be exclusive to your company tasks and responsibilities, while in others it will fall onto the employee to get everything and anything required in his job. In the same line, your company must consider safety and security of the information that employees are handling and finding alternative ways of communicating with employees to make sure that confidentiality is maintained at all times.
How does this help the environment?
Now, we’ve gone through all the reasons why telecommuting can be beneficial to employees and employers, but the planet is also benefiting from this initiative. Some companies are leading the way with telecommuting employees and have already started to notice the huge impact it is having on their company, their employees and the planet. Dell reported that because of the amount of remote work that their employees are doing they were able to save collectively over $1,000,000 in fuel costs. They also avoided 136 million miles of travel, which can also be represented in over 35,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
If all companies were to implement these kinds of initiatives, be it full time or partially, the impact will definitely give the planet a breath of fresh air. This is one more reason why telecommuting will probably continue being a trend as more and more people are trying to find ways to help the planet and find practical solutions to traffic jams, commuting costs and employee retention and satisfaction, which at the end will lead to efficiency and productivity.