A Proven Plan to Manage Telecommuters

As the digital revolution marches on, we’ve become more connected, but it has also become easier for us to participate. Couples in long-distance relationships rejoice! However, it’s also become easier for businesses to allow employees to work from home, whether they live across town or the world. The benefits of an arrangement like this are significant for both you and your employees or colleagues. Getting to work from home is a huge boon for anyone with a long commute, and the lessened overhead lets businesses free up some funds for other projects or company goals. Thankfully, new tools and technologies that facilitate this sort of remote work are always becoming available.

Most businesses of any size already use file-sharing and collaboration programs like Dropbox or Basecamp, but there are many other options. Of course, technological advancements in VoIP make working from home an easier, more attractive option.

A cloud-based PBX service allows voice-over IP calls to be routed anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This makes the digital nomad lifestyle easier for those workers who are so inclined, but perhaps more importantly, it allows business owners to hire the very best employees from around the world rather than those within easy commuting distance. This alone should be enough to get business owners interested in hiring remote workers or allowing current employees to work from home, but other benefits exist.

Benefits of Letting Employees Telecommute

The chief benefit of letting employees work from home is an increased quality of life. Studies have shown that working from home actually provides a substantial boost to happiness and productivity. And, of course, happier workers mean a more loyal workforce. Job hopping is becoming increasingly popular, especially among millennials, so it’s more important than ever to provide additional benefits beyond increasing salaries. Even if it’s just a few days a week, telecommuting can provide employees with more incentive to stay than even a pay bump in some cases. This is because telecommuting allows employees to do things like…

  • Avoid a commute
  • Spend more time with their family
  • Work when they are most productive
  • Schedule their time more effectively
  • Work from anywhere (accounting on the beach, anyone?)

These benefits can offer additional incentives to employees to do better work and stay when they might otherwise pursue work elsewhere. And the best part? Letting employees work from home costs nothing. Yes, some programs and technologies make telecommuting easier to manage. Still, the additional savings, like lower overhead and workers who are perhaps willing to work for a lower salary in exchange for the increased flexibility, will far outweigh the costs of anything you need for a smooth telecommuting setup.

Setting Up A Multi-Office or Telecommuting Workplace

First, let’s define some terms.

Multi-Office: This is any arrangement where multiple offices come together to work on the same tasks. It is a bit different from having local or regional offices in that you divide tasks.

Telecommuting: As we’ve discussed, telecommuting or remote work is an arrangement in which workers perform tasks from home (or another location altogether) via the internet.

If you want to allow your employees to work from a location other than your central office, you need to do a few things to make the new arrangement work.

1) Put Together a Workflow Plan

This looks different for each industry niche, but every company or organization needs to have one. It is especially important for companies with a multi-office setup or ones with a large number of telecommuting employees to have a clearly delegated and well-organized plan for how work will be accomplished. This is also a key time to decide whether or not remote work is a good fit for your company. A good workflow sets expectations and includes things like:

  • Delivery Deadlines
  • Points of Contact
  • Individual and Team Responsibility
  • Progress Check-In Dates
  • Overall Goals

Having a clear workflow helps to manage new tasks as they come in, and it keeps everyone on the same page when trying to get work done. A lack of clear responsibilities and deadlines can kill any remote work arrangement.

2) Establish a Communication Plan

This goes hand in hand with creating a plan for managing your workflow. Lines of communication must be clearly laid out early on. You don’t want employees waiting for a call to discuss new projects when you plan to email them details. One of the challenges to this kind of setup is to find the right mix of communication tools that fits your unique situation. This takes ongoing effort and should be frequently reevaluated to ensure everything is communicated clearly between team members. In addition, you’ll also want to establish standards for how your workers communicate with clients. This is especially important if you hire freelancers for customer-facing positions.

If you’re using a file-sharing application, you must manage access control to protect sensitive data, whether your information or your clients. You’ll also want to set standards for responsiveness and availability. One of the great pitfalls of letting workers telecommute is the sliding scale of availability. Most remote workers want to benefit from being able to adjust their schedule a little bit, sleep in one day, and work late the next. However, you must set a standard for when you need them available for communication, especially when it comes to handling time-sensitive projects.

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Change Things Up

Bringing a second office online or letting employees work from home can be a nerve-racking experience. Fortunately, plenty of tools are available to monitor remote workers to ensure the tasks you need to complete get completed, from VoIP phone systems hosted remotely to file-sharing programs designed to facilitate better collaboration and maximize productivity. Starting a new program like this can be extremely rewarding, and while not for the faint of heart (or the poorly organized), it can take any business to new heights.

Looking for a powerful VoIP-hosted PBX system that’s full of features and easy to use? Then call Press8 Telecom at 800-349-VOIP (8647). We are small business phone system experts.

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