Telecommuting: When and How to Use It
Have you ever wanted to work from home? These days, it’s much easier and more common than you might thing. Telecommuting is an arrangement that your company might make with certain employees in which the employee does not physically travel to a specific office but instead works remotely. Telecommuting should be handled carefully, however, as some issues can crop up. The best way to handle this is outlined below.
Pros and Cons of Telecommuting
Telecommuting is a very good way to maximize the productivity of certain employees. Rather than pay somebody for the hours they spend at a desk, a worker instead receives payment based on work that gets done. It can also be very useful for employees who need to balance their work with a complex family life or difficult schedule caused by illness and treatment. On the other hand, the negatives of telecommuting include a loss of routine, since the remote user isn’t necessarily available at all times during the business day. Remote users also get less interaction with colleagues, which can negatively impact those whose positions require a constant flow of discussion and exchange of ideas.
Who Telecommuting Works Best For
Telecommuting is ideally suited for employees that don't need to be physically on site every day. For example, a great deal of tech support can be done using remote utilities and phone assistance. Any job that focuses primarily on reading, writing, and editing documents can easily be adapted to a telecommuting position as long as your company takes advantage of the many remote utilities out there and provides a well backed up shared drive. This practice can also be put into use on a part time basis for employees who have recently experienced the birth of a child or who have had a severe illness, giving them a chance to ease their way into work prior to making a full time return.
When not to Telecommute
Telecommuting is not something that will work in every office. If an employee has a need to be in physical contact with goods, then this might not be the best option. Positions that require a physical presence, such as reception or customer service, likewise don't make good candidates for telecommuting. Finally, you should always consider the security implications of remote access. If your business has highly confidential material, customers' financial information, or medical data, you should take every precaution to ensure that the data will remain secure. This might involve limiting access to certain files and folders or requiring employees to fill out nondisclosure agreements.
Special Needs for Telecommuters
There are certain things that anybody who is telecommuting will need in order to continue to work effectively. A good knowledge of remote utilities and their use is a must, and the ability to troubleshoot this software when a common problem arises is also very helpful. The employee will need to have a steady, fast, and reliable Internet connection at whatever site is being used as the remote office. A cell phone or landline is also a must, since it enables employees to communicate with others in the main office should an emergency situation arise. Finally, you should make sure that there is somebody capable of covering for the person’s hands on tasks at the main office, just in case.
Temporary versus Permanent
Some telecommuters choose to only work remotely for a temporary period of time. This might include following the birth of a child, wh ere using remote access can help ease the transition from medical leave back to a full time position. You should weigh the options between whether or not a given individual will become a permanent telecommuter very carefully. An employee who is leaving the area but who still wants to help the office or somebody who doesn’t need to be on site is a good option for full time remote access. As another option, you can have somebody telecommute most of the week while coming in to the office once or twice a week to complete necessary hands on tasks.
As a whole, telecommuting is a great way to continue getting production even when a worker is unable to be in the office. In some cases, it can even lead to better efficiency, since employees have less dead time than they might if they were sitting at a desk. You should carefully consider security options as well as your office’s day to day hands on needs before allowing somebody to telecommute full time, however.
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