We all know that advances in technology have drastically changed what a "typical" business environment looks like. Gone are the days where you need to come into the office in order to do your job. Nowadays with a quality Internet connection and a well designed communication system the right employee can almost work from anywhere! OK so you are a business owner and you are looking at alternative ways to incent and retain quality staff. This is not a new concept by any means but the idea of allowing an employee the freedom and choice of working from home certainly is! Ten years ago you would not have been able to offer "home based employment" to that highly qualified person who maybe did not want to commit to putting her young child in daycare and driving into the office 5 days a week. Technology has changed all this and helped to create a mindshift in regards to a normal workplace.
Chances are you already know this is possible so a more relevant question might be; Can my business operate this way and how can I implement it? This is something that I can definitly relate to as I both have employees who work from home and partially work from home myself! In order to answer if your business can offer this as a viable option you need to look what I believe are the two main components.
It will be essential that you provide adequate resources for your remote workers if you want them to succeed. You will need to address some, if not all, of the following:
- Does the main office have the network in place to allow quality, secure remote connections?
- Do the telecommuter's have access to adequate Internet bandwidth? This is absolutely essential if you want a posative experience!
- Does the office phone system support remote IP phones?
- Can the IT dept. configure a secure VPN tunnel? VPN tunnels are industry standard when it comes to connecting remote employees to the corporate network. The VPN tunnel is the backbone that allows all the communications back to the office. Telephone calls, IM, Video, line of business software......
- Maybe you are considering "Cloud" based services for your employees which is another possibility
2. The Right Personality
You can have all of the best technology but it will do you no good unless you can pair it with the "right person"! It will take an individual with a specific set of traits for this employment option to be long lasting a mutually beneficial. These traits are not new and they are usually desirable in a traditional office environment as well. The difference is with a remote teleworker they now become crucial!
- Discipline- The ability to perform your job completely unattended is critical
- Time Management- The ability to perform your job related tasks in a timely manner with all of the home based interruptions that are possible is not as easy as it seems!
- A strong work ethic- Putting in a serious day's work when you could possibly get away with less (at least for a short period) will be another requirement for success.
- Effective at Communicating- Remember that your employee will rarely be "face-to-face" with anyone so their ability to effectively communicate via telephone, Instant Messaging, Email and Social Media cannot be overlooked.
The benefits of "remote" or "home based" employees can be great for all parties involved but it will take some planning and selection if you want to realize the full benefits. At Okanagan Telephone Company we are embracing the shift in what is a "typical" work environment. We of course are in the business of providing all of the technological buiding blocks so a company can succeed in this arena, but we are also running our business operations in a similar fashion!