Changing Your Telecommuting Policy: Working Remotely
As someone who works solely from home I get into a lot of interesting conversations when I tell people I work for a company whose headquarters are in Maryland though I live in Oklahoma. Additionally, as an extrovert working from home I also get a lot of interesting feedback. Overcoming these variables of proximity and isolation are things that many people are wondering about regarding telecommuting.
Because the company I work for is a technology company we specialize in bringing archaic systems such as phone systems into the 21st century. This helps our clients decrease on-premise hardware and hardware update costs, increase productivity and decrease company costs. We also get the benefits of utilizing the same technology that we boast.
Close But No Cigar
I have found that many people are allowed to work from home on occasion but the infrastructure they are using does not support remote working. One example of this is using a cell phone to conduct business when working from home. There is too much available technology for your work phone to be tied only to your office, not to mention having to use your personal cell phone to conduct business! Using TecFac’s TeamWorkAnyWhere solution, I use Skype for Business not only for my office phone but for messaging my coworkers, attending meetings, sharing my screen as well as being able to see a coworker’s availability. Whenever and whoever I am calling to do business with it is from my work number. I never have to miss a call nor “call in” to a meeting because I can attend using video right from my computer or phone application. Check out a quick video of how the technology I’m describing enhances working from home and increases my productivity:
Isolation is the absence of collaboration
Inefficiency in the technologies or lack of technology used to support telecommuting can cause people to be siloed in their work. This isolation is one fear companies have in allowing revisions to their telecommuting policies. This is a valid fear and one that should be examined. Left without accountability it may be hard to monitor performance, gain insight from each other and employees may lose synergy quickly. However, even working in an office together, this isolation and lack of collaboration and motivation can also occur.
Culture and values are what promote or diminish isolation and collaboration. As you saw in the above video, with tools like Skype for Business, collaboration may not be face-to-face, but it comes pretty close. Technology can aid the necessary functions of an organization that promote productivity and collaboration. When the tools are realized and used appropriately they can enhance one’s job and one’s function on a team. In addition, technology can also help maintain the needed accountability for team members and bring an enjoyment and usefulness to these accountability measures rather than sterilize them.
Find a Partner to Help You With the Process
Don’t do it alone! It is necessary to know who to partner with in gaining the technology and training needed to move forward as a company, and creatively find new ways to collaborate and gain the team members you need to advance as a company. We see this everyday in the clients we work with. Our clients know how to run their business and are experts in the niche they have but they leave their technology behind because they are focused on their niche and what they do well.
Take, for example, accounting. Many companies of all different industries from salon owners to non-profits to marketing firms struggle to understand their changing business in light of accounting practices. Accounting is not their niche! Because of this they hire an accountant. This is someone who is not in-house but someone they can call on for consultation and to gain help in moving their company forward ethically and to keep the business informed of accounting practices that are necessary and could benefit the organization. Your company may have many of these positions in-house as well, even though accounting isn’t your direct business; it is an essential part of the business.
The same is true for technology – whether you currently have a technology department or not, outside help is needed to stay informed and on top of changing times. Especially since technology is an ever and quickly changing modality. Consultation and in-house support from people who specialize in the services you don’t specialize in is what makes our businesses thrive.
How to Get Started
You may be wondering how to begin a change in your telecommuting policy. Consider these tips for modifying such a policy and understanding the values your business has:
- Have a technology audit and consult with a technology firm to find out what it would take to update your telecommuting policy.
- Consider gathering research regarding telecommuting advances and find similar companies or competitors who have adopted such policies.
- Factor in the costs that would be increased and the costs that would diminish if your employees were to telecommute.
- Realize the environmental savings that would incur from your employees driving less, using less electricity, etc.
- Acknowledge the decrease in stress your employees may have and the added agility it may provide.
- Using the data gained from these considerations along with the technology audit, gather decision makers and stakeholders in your organization to assess the technology audit’s findings, your company’s current weaknesses and strengths, as well as, opportunities and threats to changing such a policy.
There are some types of jobs that might not lend well to telecommuting, however, for those jobs that can, or are currently working remotely, there might be technology you are unaware of that could enhance your current operation.