How employers can make telecommuting work

By Higginbotham on July 16 , 2020

work from home

Telecommuting may be the new normal. According to Business Insider, a study from IBM found that 54 percent of workers want to continue working remotely on a full-time basis after the pandemic.

This may be a good thing. When done right, telecommuting can benefit both the employer and the employee.

Embrace the Employer Advantages

Employers are likely already aware of the potential downsides of remote work arrangements, including increased cyber security risks. However, there are also many advantages to consider.

  • Remote work can attract and retain talent. Modern workers crave benefits that provide a work-life balance, and remote work delivers.

  • Remote work can save money. People who work from home may save money on commutes, childcare, lunches and more. Employers may also see savings in reduced real estate or office space costs and reduction in employee loss of productivity in an office setting. According to Forbes, 44 percent of workers would be willing to take a 10 percent salary cut in exchange for a permanent work-from-home arrangement. 

  • Remote work can reduce stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress costs the U.S. industry more than $300 billion each year in employee turnover, diminished productivity, absenteeism, accidents and other related costs. Remote work may give employees the tools they need to balance their personal and professional obligations and reduce their stress levels.

  • Remote work can increase productivity. Employees have less distractions from co-workers and can focus on their work easier, which allows more flexibility to complete their work on their own schedule. It also empowers employees to control their daily schedule and achieve a better work-life balance.  

  • Remote work has environmental benefits. Employers have environmental cost savings from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, less traffic and road congestion, shorter commutes and more.

Recruit the Right Workers

Not everyone does well working from home. When recruiting for remote-work positions, it’s important to consider the skills and characteristics that help people thrive in this arrangement.

  • Is the worker self-motivated, organized and independent? People who need constant direction may not do well working from home.

  • Is the worker happy working alone? Some people crave daily social interaction and may get lonely working at home.

  • Does the worker have the tech skills to work from home? Figuring out how to use remote work programs – and keeping them safe from cyberattacks – takes some knowledge.

  • Is the worker trustworthy? You won’t be able to keep a constant eye on remote workers, so you need to trust that they’ll get their work done.

Set Clear Expectations

Having clear expectations from the start will help things go smoothly and prevent potential conflicts. Consider the following issues:

  • When will the worker be on the clock? Even if the worker is salaried and doesn’t clock in and out, you want a clear understanding of when the worker is expected to be available. Many remote workers may want flexible hours, but they may also resent a supervisor who expects them to be on call 24/7. Likewise, the supervisor will need to know when the worker can be counted on to be available.

  • How frequent will communication be? If the worker is expected to check in daily and participate in a video meeting weekly, for example, this should be made clear from the get-go.

  • Will workers need to provide their own equipment? Some companies provide remote workers with computers and other necessary equipment, while CNBC reports that Google has offered to reimburse workers up to $1,000 for remote-work supplies. Also consider how costs for internet and phone services will be handled.

Maintain Interaction and Engagement

You’ve heard the saying – out of sight, out of mind. When it comes to remote-work arrangements, this maxim can become a hazard.

  • Interact with remote workers daily. This could be done through phone calls, emails, text messages or video conferences, but it needs to be done.

  • Set up remote-work tools. There are many modern software programs that facilitate remote meetings and collaboration.

  • Schedule in-person events. Occasionally having office parties, team-building exercises or important meetings in person can help everyone stay connected.

Have questions about telecommuting policies and procedures? Contact our HR Services team.

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