Telecommuting has as many limitations as it has benefits. It might not be suitable to all employees, and all kinds of work. SupportBiz lists five questions that every manager should answer honestly before allowing his/her employees to telecommute.
Am I the right kind of manager for a telecommuting employee?
When an employee is telecommuting, his/her manager is unable to see the work actually being done. What the manager can see are the results of the employee’s work. Hence, before allowing your employee to take up telecommuting, determine if you are the right kind of manager for such an employee. Will you able to do without seeing the employee work? Will you be able to do without micromanaging his/her work? Will you able to judge the employee only on the basis of the results that he/she generates?
Will the employee be happy telecommuting?
Telecommuting is not for every employee. Some people find it incredibly difficult working from home, and would rather travel to office to work. Some other employees grow more focused and productive when they work from home, as against working from office. You need to determine which category the employee you are considering falls into. Due to this reason, telecommuting is a decision that you will need to consider for each individual employee, and cannot implement across the firm, uniformly.
Also, before allowing an employee to telecommute, you should determine if he/she will be able to work independently, without constant touch with other employees/managers. You will also need to consider if the employee will be able to communicate the results of his/her work and achievements to you effectively.
Can the work be done from home?
Another important consideration before allowing an employee to telecommute is whether his/her work can be done reasonably well from home. Not all types of work can be done from home. Some jobs require extensive working on equipment, which is available only at the workplace. Some jobs require the employee to constantly co-ordinate with his/her co-workers, which might become difficult in case of telecommuting.
Also, certain kinds of work might be manageable from home during certain periods of time, while working from office might become necessary during other times. You should give careful consideration to such things before allowing an employee to telecommute.
Will there be a change in remuneration or policies?
Before allowing telecommuting, you should consider the remuneration that you will offer to the concerned employee. Will it be the same as his/her earlier pay package, or different? Will you offer your telecommuting employees the same salary and benefits as you do to your other employees?
Also, you must lay down a clear set of policies and guidelines for those employees of yours who are telecommuting. Clearly define your expectations regarding work and other issues, and how you will be judging them.
Will there be a trial period?
If you are not sure about an employee telecommuting, you could consider giving him/her a trial period at it. During this trial period, you could observe the employee’s performance and his/her communication with you. Depending upon your observations at the end of the trial period, you could decide whether to allow the employee to telecommute or not.