If you ask most HR managers what their company’s policy is around teleworking, the chances are they’ll tell you that they actively support and implement a teleworking program writes Katie Fabian..
The reality is that most companies allow employees to work from home on occasion or they give them access to work content or emails on smart phones, tablets and PCs.
However, true teleworking – enabling employees to work anytime, anywhere – is something quite different. When done well, teleworking programs can significantly improve workplace productivity and employee satisfaction. Whether it’s shaving off time from the daily commute, ensuring a better work-life balance around children, or reducing overhead costs associated with having an office, the benefits are available to everyone.
Despite these benefits, there still seems to be somewhat of a stigma associated with teleworking. “What’s on TV?” or “how was your holiday?” are the sort of jokes aimed at teleworkers from their office-based colleagues. In 2013 we need to look at workplace efficiency in a different way. We should be measuring people on production and quality rather than the hours they spend chained to their desk. After all, the best teleworking programs go hand-in-hand with a flexible working culture.
Of course, for some companies, taking the step to support teleworking is a challenging one. All too often, there are multiple people that need to approve the change, and each has their own set of unique reasons as to why the company should say “no”. CEOs must understand that staff are accountable, while CFOs should be able to place a tangible figure on an employee’s financial worth to the business. CIOs also have the task of introducing new technologies to support remote workers.
Senior management must first understand that by saying no to teleworking they are actually prohibiting a more efficient workforce. Once this realisation is achieved, senior management become more open to implementation. The following tips will help these executives and HR managers when introducing teleworking to their businesses:
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – The old saying still rings true. Take a step-by-step approach to introducing teleworking. This could be as simple as allowing remote working on specific days or for a specific group of employees.
Play the Politics Game – Office politics are rife in many organisations. Take a collaborative approach and ensure that finance, operations, HR and the Board are all involved in developing and rolling out telework programs.
Make it Official – Having a Telework Policy may seem a little dry, but by getting things down in writing, management and staff are all aware of their responsibilities when it comes to working remotely.
Maintaining Dialogue – Working remotely can often mean working alone. To ensure that teams are all on the same page, engaged and productive, ensure that regular calls and meetings are scheduled. Despite working remotely, employees should always make time for face-to-face engagement.
Living in a Technology World – Technology has changed the way we live our lives. The emergence of cloud-based software and services means that employees can access content and resource from anywhere at any time. Make sure that remote workers have the tools to do their jobs to the best of their ability, whether it is through smart phones, tablets or task management software.
Prioritizing – Managers often worry that remote workers lose sight of priority tasks by not being in the same physical environment. Software products such as ANCILE uAlign™ can support remote workers by prioritizing tasks with questions such as: “Did you receive the message? Did you read it? Did you understand it?”
Training Isn’t Just for the Classroom – Training and development are key to driving efficiency and productivity in the workplace, whether employees work remotely or in the office. Technology means that companies can now provide eLearning modules to remote workers. This information should be delivered in bite-size chunks of information to ensure greater retention.
Measuring ROI – Like with any process change, businesses need to ensure that the change is having the desired positive impact on the organisation. Be sure to conduct audits around productivity and employee satisfaction so that improvements may be monitored and tracked back to teleworking.
By following these steps, HR managers will be better equipped with the knowledge needed to implement successful teleworking plans – thus, ensuring that employees can “walk the talk” when it comes to remote communications.
About the Author:
Katie Fabian, Australia Country Manager, ANCILE Solutions; a leading provider of learning and performance software solutions.