By Ana Ellington
Case studies show that establishing a telecommuting program for your business is a win-win situation. Employers win with increased productivity, lower turnover, and enhanced bottom-line profitability. Participating employees win with increased job satisfaction, greater flexibility, and reduced commuting costs. Yet a major concern is managing telecommuters. But according to one state agency, it’s manageable with the right plan.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Commuter Services offers the following tips to help you successfully manage your telecommuters. These tips are valuable in any state.
1. Agree on a schedule. Create a viable workday schedule; allow for breaks; post a telecommuting schedule; and revisit schedule issues as needed.
2. Clarify objectives. Evaluate existing objectives to ensure they are measurable and quantifiable; measure productivity. Expect professionalism—telecommuting should be invisible to those at the other end of the phone or computer line; know what will be performed at telecommuting sites versus traditional worksites.
3. Set expectations. Clarify not only what is expected of telecommuters but also how and how well it is to be done. Such expectations should be no different than those at the traditional worksite—as with all expectations, they should be documented rather than assumed.
4. Uphold standards. Ensure that telecommuting sites meet organizational standards for safety, security, efficiency, and confidentiality; see that needed equipment, technology, and supplies are made available.
5. Monitor performance. Focus on evaluating results rather than activities; provide feedback on performance regularly; stay in contact with telecommuters; set expectations that telecommuters keep you updated; find a balance that is right for you and your telecommuters.
6. Maintain communications. Keep telecommuters informed of events and information from the traditional worksite; encourage coworkers to keep telecommuters in the loop on formal and informal work events; and initiate communications and hold telecommuters accountable for the same.
7. Recognize performance. Let telecommuters know that you value their work and that others recognize their achievements; support career growth and opportunities; promote telecommuters to on-site management; and reward positive results.
8. Maintain the team. Hold telecommuters and coworkers accountable for achievement of goals. Ensure they support one another.
9. Handle problems right away. Early, equitable resolution of conflict is key; take immediate measures to address issues or perceptions that will impact performance.
10. Assess/adjust. Solicit feedback periodically on what is working and what isn’t; allow open discussion and private conversation; remain objective; and make appropriate adjustments.
Remember that no new initiative is without a few bumps in the road, but with your leadership, telecommuting can be a successful organizational initiative.