Everyone wants to be that person – the one whose staff are happy and free to come and go as they please, because they know at the end of the day results are delivered. But letting your staff change to a work-from home system requires a lot of planning, preparation and infrastructure, and it may require a dramatic shift in “business as usual”.
There is a common misconception that technology allows us to work from home as if we were really in the office. This is not entirely true. It doesn’t mean that workers can’t be as productive, but it means that the way they work will change. Here are a few things to consider when letting staff work from home.
Do they have the right tools for the job?
Sending them home with nothing more than web-based email access and a company phone is only going to result in lost productivity. Setting up the right IT infrastructure is crucial before letting anyone work from home. Make sure they can get seamless access to their email, and seriously consider implementing some kind of virtual desktop system. This will dramatically reduce lost productivity as staff can feel like they have everything they need to do their jobs.
Is your culture right?
Some companies are simply not built for telecommuting workers. If someone isn’t motivated and a self-starter when they are in the office, they’re going to be even worse out of it when they can watch TV while they work. Before letting people work from home, you should ensure that you have the right structures in place to keep people focused out of the office.
Do your staff have individual goals set, with measurable outcomes? Do you have a system for reporting progress in place? If you’re trying out work from home solutions, you need to have measures in place to see that they’re not costing you in productivity and money.
Can you afford to let them out of the office?
Some peoples jobs require them to be in the office five days a week, and no amount of calendar shuffling will fix this. However, most people can probably re-arrange their regular in-office work to make it fit into one or two days, leaving them free to work from home for the rest of the week. If your entire office did this, it might be chaos, but within individual departments it can work quite well if each person has one or two days where they are allowed to work from home.
This ensures that there is at least one or two people from each department in the office at all times, while all workers get to work from home most of the time.