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Why should I create a telecommuting strategy?

Why should I create a telecommuting strategy?

How should I approach recruitment during a recession?

In searching for ways to attract and keep top talent, telecommuting gives employers another valuable option for shaping the ideal job for prospective employees.

Most employees would kill for it. Most employers have doubts. With the right strategy in place, telecommuting can be a winner on both counts.

Why even consider it?
In these days of increased competition, tightened purse strings and melting glaciers, telecommuting offers some important advantages to companies brave enough to take the step.

Companies who have successfully introduced it are already finding they retain more of their valued workers. On top of that, having fewer employees working in-office offers genuine overhead savings for employers.

Employees can save time and money too (and, at the same time, increase both their productivity and job satisfaction). Companies promoting telecommuting also help the earth become a little greener, by removing cars from the road.

Your first step should be to create a document identifying why the company is considering telecommuting. Then, pinpoint HR and organisational issues.

  • Which positions and employees are best suited?
  • Which management issues need to be addressed?
  • How many days per week?
  • Which days should team meetings be held at the office?
  • How to supervise telecommuters?
  • How to ensure staff continue to feel connected and engaged?
  • What equipment will have to be purchased?
  • How to deal with IT, security, property, and tax issues?

Who telecommutes?
Careful selection of a remote worker is the first step towards a successful telecommuting arrangement. The employee's position will be the primary factor in determining whether telecommuting is viable.

Many positions require too much supervision or ongoing involvement at the office. The feasibility of home working should also be assessed as the telecommuter will need a dedicated home-office, with appropriate IT, lighting and furniture.

Other considerations could usefully include how long an employee has been employed, disciplinary problems and job performance, as well as personal attributes such as integrity, initiative, self-discipline, focus and problem-solving.

It pays to create a ‘Fit to Telecommute' form to consistently evaluate employees as telecommuting candidates. It's also worth creating a Telecommuting Agreement so that employees know exactly what is required of them and sign to signify this understanding and agreement. This should clearly state that telecommuting is a privilege, not a right automatically granted.

To begin with, allow employees to work at home just one or two days a week and evaluate the arrangement at set intervals. Slowly increase (or decrease) the number of telecommuting days per week depending on performance.

Each company will have its own requirements for a telecommuting policy but some common elements all would be wide to consider include:

  • The procedure for requesting a telecommuting arrangement
  • The technology , connectivity and furniture which you will provide.
  • Specialist training for optimum telecommuting performance
  • Guidelines for: time-keeping
  • Communication procedures with supervisors and managers
  • Supervision requirements
  • Accountability and tracking

The bottom line, as competition to attract and keep the best employees remains as cutthroat as ever, telecommuting may just be the way forward – it's up to you to decide who is worthy.

Discuss this issue on The Employer Forum.