How to Make Telecommuting Work for Your Company

With all the speculation around Marisa Mayer’s decision to reduce telecommuting options and Best Buy’s decision to get rid of ROWE, I’ve been a little concerned about the subject. Although their choices are their choices and I’m sure they had good reasoning for it, I don’t think other companies should start panicking over this. More importantly, I don’t think companies should start rethinking their telecommuters (or their plans to implement them) just because these two situations occurred. Both companies had issues beforehand and didn’t make the decision out of the blue. So, let’s not get all crazy about it. I work virtually every single day and found that it has been better for my career, productivity, and growth than the years I spent going into the office.

Sometimes virtual work and telecommuting options don’t work properly because: they are not implemented well; they are not managed well; the option doesn’t work with the job function; or the wrong people are being allowed to telecommute. Too often we hear about the negativity of things, but what about the positive aspects of it? I’m living proof that it CAN work if it’s done right.

Here are some suggestions to make telecommuting work effectively:

  • Utilize different forms of technology that makes sense for your company. This can increase opportunity for collaboration and communication in a functional way.
  • Create expectations and a plan for managers to manage this successfully.  Managers need to be very involved in the daily activities of their teams, communicate feedback regularly, and make themselves available for additional training/assistance.
  • Allow HR to look for opportunities that increases engagement throughout the organization. Some of these activities could include different committees within the company to help the company be progressive. It can also allow employees to partner up with people they might not normally work with. This can create a strong sense of community and team work.
  • Hire the right people for this position. The people who are a fit for this are ones that are trail-blazers, internally motivated, Type A, and accountable. They don’t believe in making excuses- they believe in working hard. This hard-work and dedication can inspire others and set the bar for the organizational expectations.
  • Create a culture in which they leave no man (or woman) behind. All of the employees should be there for each other and they should make sure they help out one another to ensure everyone hits their goals and expectations.
  • Compare notes regularly. Employees of the organization should regularly meet to discuss different tactics they utilize which can ensure they are managing their time well. This can keep them productive and effective at their jobs. Employees are able to learn from each other and they can try different options to see what works for their needs.

Like I said earlier, I feel like I’ve progressed more in my career working virtually than in an office. I’ve not only done well at my job, hit goals, and made my managers/clients happy but I’ve also had the ability to take on other projects that I am passionate about. Essentially, I am defining my own career path. I’m responsible for my professional development.

You don’t believe me? Check out this infographic on Youtern.

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Benefits of Working Remotely/Virtually

There seems to be this on-going idea that remote or virtual workers don’t work as hard or effectively as those who come into the office. Additionally, there is this common thought that these types of workers don’t receive any perks of working for a company because they are no longer physically there. Some may even believe that these types of jobs are illegitimate or a scam. Others could think that these individuals would be miserable because they don’t see/interact with anyone. In some cases, this might be very true. However, I would like to put this common belief to rest. After working in a virtual environment and speaking to others who have worked remotely for years, I have learned that there are many benefits to this type of role.

If your company has found a way to implement this role effectively, you may find that working virtually/remotely has both personal and professional benefits:

  • Increased communication: Working outside of the office means that you must rely heavily on communication. Also, your communication must not be taken advantage of. Because these roles rely heavily on using communication successfully, it has allowed an increase in effective collaboration. Additionally, employees felt that they built stronger relationships and teams because of this reliance on communication.
  • Increase in productivity and accountability: A lot of worker’s complain that they are not engaged because they do not feel responsible or accountable for anything. They also feel as if though they are not empowered to do their best. If you are working in a role like this, you have to be self-driven, organized, good with time management, and accountable. Your success and failures occur due to what you produce. Individuals in this role have found work to be more meaningful.
  • You are relocatable: Sometimes, things change in life. Perhaps you are a nomad that wants to explore other areas. Maybe a significant other is in the military or needs to transfer for a company. Perhaps you need to move to help a loved one during sickness or a hard time. Or maybe you want to try someplace new that has a better living situation. Reasons are endless and many times people can feel unfulfilled or stressed if they feel that they have no options to do these things. Working remotely can allow you to easily relocate for whatever reason without having to quit a job or search for a new one in the new area.
  • It can help your job search: Some areas just really don’t have a good job market and your job hunt may be unsuccessful. Maybe the area you live in doesn’t even have companies that support the type of industry you are targeting. Remote/virtual work can allow you to gain employment for the job function or industry you desire, with a company that is out of the area. Companies that offer this option can expand their job offerings to people that are struggling to find work in their current location.
  • Can cut costs and time: You can save a ton of money working home if you don’t need to spend it on transportation and gas. You can also cut down time spent on commuting and allow yourself to have a little extra time to either work harder, handle personal affairs, or even just relax. Who wouldn’t want to save money and give a few moments back to themselves?
  • Always be there:  This is a great option for parents or pet owners. Sometimes parents/pet owners do not have the means to pay for babysitters, boarding, walkers, or daycare. Additionally, some parents/owners don’t want to use these options because they want their children or pet to know them while growing up. This option can allow you to be home and be there for when your children grow up or when your pets need you.

Of course, there can be chances where people take advantage of working from home, which is why this stereotype is out there. Surprisingly though, many people who are self-driven can be even more productive and dedicated to work than those who come into the office each day. It’s really all about finding candidates that are results driven because they’ll be the producers that are successful in any environment (inside or outside of the office). If you are a company, consider these options. You can cut overhead costs and expand your workforce to areas that have talent you wouldn’t be able to find in your immediate area. If you are a job seeker, be sure to consider this option because there are many benefits, such as the ones mentioned above.

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