Working From Home:
By: Alicia Haines Davis
Alicia Haines Davis is the Marketing Communications Manager at triCerat, a leading provider of virtualization management and desktop management solutions for organizations. Founded by John Byrne, triCerat has become one of the leading names in the IT industry.
Times are changing. Fast. The 'typical' job has traditionally consisted of a nine to five workday at a single corporate office where all employees commute to five days a week. Maybe there are small deviations from the rule where an employee can choose to come in at 8am and leave at 4pm. Perhaps a full hour is permitted for lunch, or perhaps it isn't. Regardless of the details, the orthodox work schedule has had very little margin for freedom-until now.
The New World of Work Location Freedom
With the exception of traveling sales and business people, the concept of remote location employees is a new one. Thanks to technological leaps and bounds, the business world is quickly becoming highly mobile and versatile, and with these advancements come both technical and social considerations.
There are many different ways in which you can achieve remote access computing from a technical standpoint. However, it is essential that you carefully evaluate your specific environment to determine which mode best suits your business' needs. Securing sensitive data from hackers may be your top priority, or perhaps fast and easy communication with your remote employee is your main concern. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have thought everything through. It's advisable to have an IT professional help you establish which method of remote connection is most appropriate for your enterprise.
The other determining factors you will want to consider is how the change will affect your business on a social level, how work will be conducted by your remote employee, and how you as a boss are supposed to evaluate their work. Because it's true, one can't just walk across the office or plan an impromptu meeting to get an update on a worker's progress.
There are aspects of employee management that would need to be reexamined and inevitably reshaped. How are employers supposed to evolve with the times? How can an employer keep tabs on a worker that isn't there? How will it alter the camaraderie of your team? The conventional techniques an employer uses to assess an employee would have to be modified.
Trusting, Planning, Goal Setting
There is a big question that may be looming when considering remote location employment. How can I know my employee isn't taking advantage of this untethered freedom?
Before any changes begin, a certain level of trust and respect must be shared between employer and employee. Without it, the initial plunge is unlikely to take place. If that fundamental combination has been established, ease the stress of transitioning from in house to remote employment by forming a steady and clear line of communication. Whether it is via conference calls, daily emails, or a shared calendar, a vehicle to maintain employer-employee interaction must be put in place in order to keep both parties feeling secure.
As more time passes, you will be better able to assess your worker's level of production if you have established a well-defined set of goals that you both agree on. Understanding what projects need to be accomplished and the timeframe in which they must to be completed will make keeping track of your remote worker a far easier and less stressful task. If your employee repeatedly fails to finish the allotted tasks within the pre-determined period of time, then it may be an indication that working from home may not be the best option for that particular staff member.
Get Creative: Find a Happy Middle Ground
You're the boss, so you don't have to compromise, right? Well perhaps, but consider this: by understanding your employee's situation and working to find a middle ground that suits both your needs, you may very well end up with a more productive employee that creates better quality work.
Don't be afraid to get creative and be flexible as these characteristics just might be the ticket to a more successful business. Being open to your options may make all the difference for you, your employees, and the organization as a whole. For instance, if the commute of one employee is having a detrimental affect on his work, offer to let him work from home a few days a week. This way you can still have the face-to-face time while allowing him to breathe easier at the gas pump. Both of you walk away feeling satisfied: your employee's production rate increases because he is happy and respects you, while you may have just saved yourself from losing a great worker. Your efforts will have a positive effect on the organization's sense of community and bottom line.
Feeling the Fruits of Your Effort and Compromise
Having remote employees may end up being an experiment. See how it goes with a small number of employees, even one, and proceed from there. Make a concise list of expectations for each individual you plan on letting work remotely and be open to dialogue about the subject.
In the end you might find it works well for your organization, or it may not. Either way, you tested new ways to improve your business.
© Copyright 2009, Alicia Haines Davis
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.
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