A home-based office deployment, for any sized business, requires a plan to be successful. The issues are similar whether you are an independent owner or manage a team of employees as distractions, time-management, communication and availability to your team and/or client can all impact your ability to manage your business efficiently.
A few tips to consider for implementing a remote working environment include:
1. Working from home is a coveted perk among almost all employees.
Whether your staff is made up of only you or a team of commuters suffering long hours in traffic, working from home can have an appeal to just about everyone. It can even be used as s motivational tool. In a research document by Microsoft Small Business Resources, 72 per cent of employees say they prefer working from home— and 52 per cent claim they’re actually more productive working there.
2. Working from home saves your company money.
Many small businesses worry that having remote workers will cost them time, productivity, and even money. In reality, a study conducted by The Telework Coalition shows that businesses can save an average of $20,000 annually for each full-time remote employee. These results are a reason you must explore this option for our business
3. Working from home increases productivity.
Employees aren’t imagining things when they say working from home improves their productivity. The Telework Coalition research shows the average business incorporating remote workers saw employee productivity rise 22 percent.
4. Creating a remote work policy will require thought and planning.
When you’re ready to give it a try, follow these steps:
a) Develop a plan.
b) Decide who will be eligible
- Will certain employees work from home full-time?
- Will others have the option to do so part-time?
- Are certain positions, days or hours “off limits” for working at home?
- Do employees need to meet certain criteria or hit certain performance targets before they earn the privilege?
- Document a formal process and publish it. It must clearly define your remote worker policy and how you handle situations
5. Use the right tools.
You and/or your team probably have much of the technology they need to work at home, but if not, ensure they have what they need. This could mean Smartphone’s, headsets or inexpensive webcams. Also make sure everyone’s email systems, voice messaging, and internal instant messaging services (IM) work efficiently and you establish a policy for user supplied equipment. These are vital communication tools to operate your business
6. Explore free or low-cost online options.
With the prevalence of “cloud” and web-based software tools, there are more options than ever for working in teams online. Explore collaboration tools like Google Docs, project management options like BaseCamp, and Skype for conference calls and videoconferencing.
Miscommunications and misunderstandings can happen more easily and more often when people aren’t under the same roof. It is critical that you establish guidelines for how people should communicate. The use of tools like IM to stay in the constant contact, yet you or your employee need know when it’s required to get offline and pick up the phone.
8. Trust, but verify.
The trust issue is huge when you’re letting employees work sight unseen. The best way to ensure employees are doing what they say they’re doing is to monitor results. Set specific goals, timelines and benchmarks, and if they aren’t met, have a talk with that person to find the source of the problem.
If you have an issue and require verification, there’s software that lets you monitor employees’ emails, keystrokes and Web surfing or screen-capture their computer activity. You may desire to establish a specific time for the employees to check-in with you.
It is essential to get facilitate face time with remote workers to develop a team concept. If your staff only works from home a few times a week, you may want to set one day each week when everyone has to be in the office. If everyone works remotely, consider meeting once or twice a month. Encourage employees to get together informally as this helps develop a team concept and shared learning time.
Follow these key steps and you will have a manageable home-based office that will be able to support your plans for your business