Telework, once seen as a privilege given only to the highest performing employees at the discretion of management, is now widely utilized as a powerful tool to cut costs, increase productivity and retain high caliber talent. For example, an organization can significantly reduce its energy consumption and facility space requirements while providing employees with an incentive to produce greater results. The key to success lies in program design. Little planned, ad hoc telework arrangements generally prove problematic and increase risk to the organization when inequitably distributed amongst employees. Telework arrangements should always be in the best interest of the company before being deployed.
Here are some factors to consider when evaluating whether a telework program will work for your business:
- Does the nature of the work lend itself to telecommuting?
- What potential costs and savings are expected?
- How will the telecommuting arrangement affect the workload or productivity of others?
- What are the current attitudes, concerns and identified barriers to program implementation?
- Do any telework arrangements currently exist? If so, what are the identified benefits and distractions in the relationship?
If you determine that a telework program will benefit your business, here are some additional design, implementation and support considerations:
- Determine whether you will pilot the program or do a full rollout at onset.
- Identify suitable job tasks and determine performance criteria for program eligibility.
- Design a policy and telework agreement that participants must sign and comply with for continued eligibility. Detail performance expectations, workplace safety considerations and any other important criteria for the agreement.
- Provide training to managers on how to manage remote performance effectively.
- Provide training to employees on the skills and expectations needed for effective remote work.
Not every employee desires a telework arrangement. Some employees are not comfortable with physical isolation, do not work well independently or have a safe place to work free from distractions. This means the focus in telecommuting arrangements must be on results. Each manager should communicate in advance what assignments or tasks are appropriate to be performed offsite, and what assessment techniques will be used to measure success. The arrangement should be reviewed at regular intervals and fine tuned as successes and challenges occur.