How to implement Telecommuting in your Business effectively

If you will look at the numbers, telecommuting is no longer the future of the modern workplace, it is actually the present. In fact, more and more companies are implementing remote work policies. In a study of Global Workplace Analytics on the State of Telecommuting in the US in 2017, regular telecommuting actually grew 115% over the past decade, which is about 10 times faster than the rest of the US workforce. Not only are telecommuters growing, they are also earning more. The same study shows that the average annual income of telecommuters is about $4000 more than that of non-remote workers.
The best part is that businesses are also benefiting from the telecommuting movement as well. Again, according to Global Workplace Analytics, employee production from remote workers are higher by 35-40% more compared to the regular workforce, and that 95% of companies asked says that telecommuting has a high impact on employee retention and prevents high employee attrition. Not to mention the significant cost savings that most businesses admit is part of why they implement telecommuting policies.
Of course, like anything else in this world, there are also drawbacks to implementing remote work policies. Primary of which is that many managers believe that distance is a hindrance to collaboration. There is also the concern about data security as files are being stored on personal devices, connected to non-secure networks. Not to mention, the many distractions homes can present employees.
These concerns, however, can be addressed as long as the business takes the right preparations for implementing a telecommuting policy. If you are one of the businesses that want to take advantage of this revolutionary policy, here are some tips that you can follow to properly implement remote work within your organization:

Identify the positions and jobs that can be part of the telecommuting policy

While telecommuting is indeed effective, you have to realize that it may not be applicable to every position and job within your organization. That is why you and your managers have to thoroughly review each position and the tasks each position entails. From there, you can identify which positions can have all their tasks done remotely, positions who can have part of their tasks done remotely, and those who have positions that are vital on-premise.
From there, you can craft telecommuting policies for full remote work, partial remote work, and those that cannot be included in the policy. This way, you are not put in a position where you need a person on-premise only to find that you allowed said person to work from their home.

Identify the people who will benefit and work well from remote work

Surprisingly, not all people would work well in a remote work situation. There are still those that prefer to work in an actual office. It could be for a bunch of different reasons from avoiding distractions at home to the need for more social interactions. There are also people who wants to work remotely but if you review their past performance, they do not work well without proper supervision. This could be a big deal as working remotely requires the ability to self-manage and work independently.
Given this, you should also be smart on who of your employees will be part of the telecommuting policy. Open the discussion with the whole company so that you get inputs, not just from your managers, but also from the people who will likely be affected by the new remote work policy. This way, you can identify the people who will not only benefit from remote work, but also thrive in the situation.

Set expectations and accountability as clearly as possible

Management of remote employees is drastically different from managing on-premise workers. It involves a lot of trust from both sides to work. That is why you and your managers have to iron out the expectations for the employee and their supervisors and managers from the get go. Be clear about the tasks, reports, and whatever outputs and deliverables are expected from the employee. The time duration for these outputs should also be clear to all involved.
The level of accountability should also be clearly emphasized. Not because remote workers are self-managing employees, it means that they should no longer be managed. Managers and supervisors should still be on top of whatever is going on in their teams or departments. Ultimately, they are accountable for the performance of the remote employees under them.

Set clear rules for telecommuting employees

You can also set a different set of rules that only applies to remote workers. This is also to clarify possible concerns about the new setup including:

Attendance and availability – Are you implementing a flexi-time policy even for remote workers, or do you need them to be online for a specific duration of time?
Overtime – Be clear on how you measure number of hours worked, and what will constitute as overtime.
Compensation and benefits– Be clear if there will be a difference between the compensation and benefits they are going to receive from working at home compared to working on-premise.
Workspace – Do you require employees to have a dedicated private workspace or office at home? Or are you ok with a simple desk as long as they get the job done?
Handling of company information – Be clear on how much freedom an employee has regarding proprietary and confidential information. Set clear guidelines about storing and sharing important files.
Dress code – Do you need them to wear something more formal, especially in video meetings?
Full or partial remote work – Be clear if they can do all their work at home full time or if they need to report on-premise from time to time or in specific days.

Most small businesses opt for the SaaS model as they lack the resources to build their own applications. Besides, if the pre-built cloud apps can fulfill the need, the resources that would have been used to build a counterpart app, can instead be spent somewhere else more important.

Be mindful of employee’s career path

One of the main challenges of working from home is that remote workers usually hit a plateau in their careers. They often just do the same thing over and over that it becomes routine and they no longer develop in their careers.
This will be on the managers and the supervisors. They have to find ways to foster skill growth in their people despite the distance. One of the best ways to do this is through collaborative projects that foster interaction between team members even if they are on different locations. These collaborative projects not only help employees grow, it can also help supervisors and managers identify employees with leadership potential, which they can develop further in the future.

Turn to the cloud for help

It is no coincidence that the rise of telecommuting is happening as the use of cloud technology also rises. Cloud services are perfect for telecommuting employees as it can be accessed by anyone, anywhere as long as they have Internet connection.
For storage, there are apps like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive that provides businesses with a cloud-based file storage and management system that is also safe and secure. A cloud-based phone system that allows you to provide your remote workers their own business number or virtual extension for making calls and sending fax and SMS would solve a lot of your communication needs. For meetings and collaboration, you can sign up for an audio and video conference system as well. There are also unified communications providers that has all these in one solution.
The point is that whatever operational concern you have after implementing a remote work policy, there is probably a cloud-based solution to help you solve the problem.
In closing, telecommuting has been proven to be a boost to businesses, but only when it is implemented the right way. Hope these tips can help you implement an effective work-from-home policy.

About the author:

Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with a B2B company offering cloud-based services for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud – the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky. You can reach him through Twitter and LinkedIn.