Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, telecommuting
One way for companies to attract more talent and save on salaries is to let some employees work from home. Here are some keys organizations must keep in mind to develop successful telecommuting programs.
The chance to work from home, at least part of the time, is a benefit that many employees want. In fact, some employees say they’d choose a telecommuting option instead of a raise in pay.
Letting employees skip the morning drive can be a big boost to morale, and many workers say they’re more productive and engaged in what they’re doing when they work from home.
In addition, opening some positions to full time telecommuters can help the company expand its potential talent pool and find the best person for the job without needing the applicant to relocate.
Primed for success
That said, telecommuting isn’t a magic solution that can solve all of a business’s staffing problems. If the program isn’t designed carefully, with the employees and positions chosen properly, work will suffer.
One of the keys experts recommend for letting employees successfully work from home: Choose participants wisely.
Obviously, some jobs are better suited for telecommuters than others. Working from home typically goes best with tasks that don’t need input from multiple people and benefit from having long stretches in which the employee won’t be interrupted by co-workers.
Beyond that, the employees themselves must also be well suited to working from home. Successful telecommuters make up only about 20% of the workforce, says Marten Mickos, CEO of cloud software maker Eucalyptus Systems, in a recent CNN story.
Of course, the person needs to be disciplined enough to get their work done without close supervision, and to be comfortable with working alone.
But there are more factors that will determine a telecommuter’s success or failure. Some of the often-overlooked qualities Mickos and other experts say remote workers need include:
- Strong written communication skills — They’ll be doing more of that than talking face to face.
- The ability to resist the temptation to work all the time — Otherwise, they’ll get burned out quickly.
- An interest in collaborating — It may sound counter-intuitive, but telecommuters need to be the ones who seek out communication with their co-workers.
- Technology literacy — Telecommuters won’t have IT or their co-workers close by to answer questions.
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