No longer a non-traditional employment environment, businesses nation-wide often offer telecommuting in some way or fashion. Although it can serve both the needs of employees and employers, a work-from-home policy requires several steps be taken prior to its implementation. Following these steps can better ensure such goals as productivity, profit, and security are consistently met.

Time clocks

Employees might view time clocks as the bane of all employees everywhere, but a time clock ensures one thing: that an employee was seated and ready for work. At its very core, it reflects the expectations of the employer that an employee be productive, organized, and accountable, all of which are basic mindsets an employee accepts and adheres to in the office. Since a home office is a different environment, it is important to carry policies and procedures from the office to the home. Having a desktop or a web-based time clock available helps ensure the behaviors also transfer.

Teleconference

Teleconferencing has become very inexpensive, such that an employer can establish a secure account for less than $35 dollars per month, on average, and be able to host virtual work environments from the cloud. Teleconferencing ensures employees are present, focused, working, and productive.

Additionally, the connection can be monitored by an administrative assistant, support assistant, or supervisor. For many types of teleconferencing accounts, one meeting host can allow a supervisor to monitor between 15 and 50 employees, all of whom can be seen in a gallery grid on a monitor. With the teleconferencing capability in place, employees can work from home, and employers can rest assured that employees are working as planned or promised.

Secure provider

Because communications will often entail talk about company policy, plans, or intellectual property, a secure teleconferencing provider helps ensure the privacy of all discussions or group meetings.

Deadlines for quantifiable tasks

When it comes to telecommuting, all the planning and procedures in the world can easily go awry. The reason is that, typically, the home environment is not a work environment. Interruptions occur. Delays drag on longer than they might otherwise. A normally motivated and productive office employee might be less productive at home simply because they work slower.

The solution to this involves establishing quantifiable tasks that must get done by a certain deadline. As long as these tasks get done in the allotted time, the employer knows the employee was productive. Without this safeguard in place, an employee can fritter away time without an employer having the means to hold him or her accountable.

Partial telecommuting

A successful telecommuting agreement should involve the employee working no more than half of his or her schedule at home. At least half of the time should be spent at the office.

Production tracking

The employee should be responsible for logging all work done while at home. Additionally, the supervisor should be able to ascertain a telecommuter’s productivity by comparing the number of goals met and the number of minutes or hours logged in the production log.

Established policies and waivers

For an employee working from home, the home office, by definition, should be an extension of the office. As such, company communication policies, production guidelines, and behavior code of conduct must be followed. An employee should sign a liability waiver, releasing the employer of responsibility for at-home accidents.

Supervision and follow-up

The supervisor must be capable of maintaining productivity via all the tools: production logs, teleconferencing, and time clock records. This close supervision of what amounts to a paper trail should be done weekly. Additionally, the supervisor should follow-up with the telecommuter in person on a monthly basis, inquiring about concerns, problems, or ideas for greater efficiency.

Gradual roll-out

Employers should implement the telecommuting option gradually, to a few employees at a time for a limited number of days per week. As the supervisor determines the program’s viability, the process can be established as a standard practice.

At the end of a work week, telecommuting can be a powerful incentive for employees, helping employers maintain morale and reduce turnover. Establishing the above guidelines can help ensure the program works for everyone involved.