Marissa Mayer says no, Richard Branson says it’s a no brainer. Whether telework is an option for your company will often come down to how well it’s run. We asked some experts for their advice on implementing mobile work programs. Here are their top tips:
It’s not “one size fits all”
When is working from home acceptable? Is it only for certain roles or times of year? Some organisations allow most employees to work from home all week; for others it’s only available on request, if, for example, a staff member is working on a project and needs fewer distractions. There is no single “right” way to do telework – your organisation needs to work out what is right for its employees and business.
“These guidelines should be based on your business, your comfort level, and your employees' needs, yet must be general enough to withstand changes in your workforce,” web editor and writer Monte Enbisk said. “For example, you may decide that an employee can work from home to stay with an ill child or spouse, but you may not want an employee to work from home to take care of young children.”
Know the goals and how to measure them
“To run a successful work-at-home program, you will need to communicate effectively the priorities and expectations, and have the proper consequences in place should there be a case of abuse,” Paradigm Staffing partner Lindsay Olsen said. Whether that means having staff logged into the system for eight hours a day, or adopting a results-based system for achieving goals will depend on the nature of your business.
While there are certainly industries where staff can work full time from home, telework researcher Kate Lister said most companies find a balance of two to three days at home a week is ideal. If one day a week is “meeting day” then all staff might be required to show up then, while the rest of the week can be decided based on individual requirements and project schedules.
Communication is king
For team projects, feedback and other office communication, have a set system. Many organisations, such as global pharmaceutical company Roche, have an internal instant message system. For other offices it might be a daily conference call or using an online project management system. However it works for your teams, make sure everyone is on the same page, even when they’re not in the same room.
Let go of your inner micro-manager
Many managers still rely on “back of the head” management, Lister said. If they can see their staff then they think they’re working. Unfortunately, we’ve all known that person who seems to be an expert in simply looking busy, rather than producing results. By focusing on outcomes and goals, you can step away from the micro-managing and let people set their own working style.