There was a time in the not-too-distant past where the ability to work from home was reserved for a small percentage of the workforce. This “unicorn” of an employment situation was elusive, mysterious, and sounded too good to be true. In the past, the buzz phrase “work from home” was often a thinly-veiled attempt to lure folks into some multi-level-marketing system or careers that involve stuffing envelopes for fun and profit.
However, with the advantages that better technology provides, many employers are embracing a more flexible model for their staff. This model allows virtualization of the office environment at the benefit of both the business and the employees. Working remotely is no longer something to be seen as a gimmick job offer, nor as an abdication of control from management.
Why Allow Working From Home?
Telecommuting is not a new or experimental concept, but the adoption rate for businesses of all sizes has seen growth in the last decade. In fact, companies implementing telecommuting policies have grown at a rate of 3% a year for over 15 years! It’s estimated that approximately 23 million people are working from home at least one day a week. So what kind of results are companies seeing with “work from home” privileges?
Studies have shown that telecommuting drastically improves turnover rate and employee productivity. Take the Los Angeles Bank as an example; they were experiencing a 33% employee turnover rate and decided to test telecommuting as a method of better employee retention. A year later, the bank had improved the turnover rate nearly to zero, and productivity increased 18%. The business was able to report a savings of more than $3 million dollars per year in overhead expense!
How To Start
Obviously it would be foolish as the CEO of your business to kick down the conference room door on Monday morning and announce that everyone should pack up their desks, head back home and get back to work. Telecommuting might not be right for every business or every employee. One commonly heard response to hearing an employee has the ability to work remotely is, “I could never do that. It would be too distracting.”
So before pulling the trigger completely, we advise companies set up a test to decide if, and how a remote working situation could be best deployed. Try allowing a select group of managers to test the idea first, then when the idea becomes more comfortable, open up the opportunity to a select group of employees.
The existing technology available within your company will play a pivotal role in the success of the telecommuting campaign. The single most important thing for you to do first is find a very experienced IT consultant who will recommend and implement the right technology to support YOUR specific situation and needs. This is the key to avoiding expensive mistakes and unnecessary frustration.
Technology Considerations Before Going Remote
Telecommuting will increase your employee’s happiness levels and boost productivity, but there’s much that needs to be considered. One helpful service we provide clients who are considering adopting “work from home” capabilities with is a thorough audit of their systems BEFORE any additional technology is recommended. Similarly, if your company is considering what existing technology can be leveraged to help achieve your telecommuting goal, keep these important questions at the front of your mind:
- How many employees will be working remotely? Will they be accessing the network at the same time or at different times?
- What applications (including specialty or proprietary apps) and data will your employees need to access?
- What type of devices will your staff use to access the network? (Home computers, PDAs, Blackberries, laptops, etc.)
- What type of Internet connection will be available on the sending AND receiving end?
- What levels of security do you want in place?
- What level of monitoring do you want in place? For example, are there certain web sites and content you want “off limits?”
- Will the remote worker need to print documents?
- What are your 1 year and 3 year plans for growth?
The “Secret Weapon” for Telecommuting
We’ve outlined clearly the benefits that adopting a work from home policy can have for your business. But before going “whole hog” on the initiative, there is more research that needs to be done. So whether you are going to attempt this with in-house IT staff, or considering bringing on an IT services partner to assist with the deployment, we are going to help arm you with the knowledge you need, and the questions to ask to ensure a smooth transition.
Our FREE WORK FROM HOME GUIDE will explain in plain, non-technical terms best practices for setting up remote access for you and your staff, as well as important questions you should ask any computer consultant to avoid making the most commonly made, costly mistakes made when setting up the technology for a work from home program.
And if you’ve already downloaded the guide and are ready for a free remote access consultation, just give us a call or email – we’ll take care of the rest!