Telecommuting is a work arrangement which employees do not work in a normal office setting, instead they work outside the office or from a remote location, usually on their homes. This flexible work arrangements are becoming a perk nowadays for people longing for a better work-life balance. Working from home attracts a lot of quality talents that can be a huge asset in a very competitive market. It’s also cost effective for employers to hire offshore staff and they can save for up to 70% for each employee. Productivity and accountability may be the employers first priority, yet managing remote staff is still a big challenge for them. Every employer should come up with effective policies and practices that must be implemented immediately to achieve effective remote employees during working hours. It is very important to set clear expectations to avoid any issues and misunderstandings in the future. It is easy to feel demotivated and be disengaged in telecommuting, so make sure to make them feel like part of the team. To keep your best employees, we have created a list of rules and practices that you can develop to establish your own telecommuting policy for your business.
Work Must Be Telecommute Friendly
As an employer, you have to determine if your line of business is telecommute friendly. Jobs must primarily be completed using a computer or any electronic device that your staff can use. It is important to establish a convenient online storage for your documents and this involves electronic transmission of documents, save and retrieve records and data, but make sure that this procedure must maintain data storage and transmission security at all times.
Make Sure Your Staff Is Equipped in Telecommuting
Many have been equipped in telecommuting because they have the required equipment and decent connection needed for the job. So ask yourself first, are you looking for someone who has all the equipment and software available already or are you looking for someone just capable of working for your company and you can just supply all these necessities after? If you’re looking for someone who has a maintained work station, then look for the one who has a work experience in telecommuting, because hiring them makes the job easy and also makes it easier for you to manage. But still do not close your doors to those inexperienced especially when you can see so much potential in them, remember that there are endless possibilities if you try.
Wage and Hour Compliance
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many state wage-and-hour laws require employers to record the time which non-exempt employees work, and those recordkeeping requirements apply equally to telecommuters as they do traditional employees, as per Joseph U. Leonoro, a practitioner involving labor and employment law . When employees work from home, of course it will be very difficult for employers to track remote staff working hours. A policy must be practiced and make sure to set proper expectation to your remote staff that any online activities during working hours will be fully monitored, reported and recorded. In this way, they can only focus on their work and avoid browsing of websites that are non-work related. If anyone violates the rule, disciplinary action may apply. Also be clear what activities are compensable, are they to be paid according to hours of work or through meeting required deliverables per day? As an employer, you also have to be aware that working beyond shift must be paid with overtime wages, but you have to approve this first. This may add up to your expenses unexpectedly so make sure to create a policy that restricts a number of hours an employee can work in a day.
Keep The Lines of Communication Open
One of the concerns in telecommuting is the flow of communication. Use an instant messaging services that allows real time communication with your staff, this will make them feel that you are always available. Schedule a regular meeting and listen to them. Employees want to feel that they are important and part of the team, so make sure to respond promptly for their concerns and shortcomings that they’re experiencing. It may be hard to establish trust easily in the telecommuting environment, but constant communication exchanges in a timely manner will minimize any confusion and miscommunication.
Safety Policies Involving Telecommuters
Manage telecommuter’s safety through surveillance and worksite analysis. It’s very important for employers to receive prompt reporting of hazards and injuries, but it’s always difficult to manage safety without the detailed information of injuries. A training program in effective risk management for both employers and remote staff must be established to maintain a safe working environment. It may be hard for the employers to determine any hazards from the remote staff unless they voluntarily share it, yet in order to get honest reports, assure remote employees that this will not affect or cancel any telecommuting agreement instead this will help them avoid any risk and unfortunate circumstances that may affect their work in the future.
Telecommuters are faced with unique challenges with their work style and these challenges may impact a lot on employee stress, morale and any physical discomfort. As an employer, anything that could make the work easier for your remote staff can be a huge help in reaching a common goal. There’s always more to explore in telecommuting, that’s why understanding the elements of the telecommuting program may contribute a lot in the virtual telecommuting culture. Set goals and expectations, regularly review work and performances, if there are any challenges, make sure to address it immediately, implement rules and policies, this will help you achieve not just the loyalty of your staff but also a successful telecommuting program.