Hiring not in the budget? By embracing telecommuting, which can reduce overhead costs by as much as 42%, saving millions of dollars, companies that haven't been able to increase hiring in the last few years might finally be able to add new staff members, ultimately increasing the bottom line and helping to reduce the nation's continually high unemployment rate.
But how do you start a telecommuting program? For companies, here are some of the first steps you can take, and if you're an employee who wants to telecommute, you can use these tips to present to your supervisors to implement a work from home plan.
1. Talk to your staff. Find out if they would like the option to work from home, even if just one or two days a week. By offering your current employees the opportunity, it will begin to establish your policies and strategies.
2. Work with your employees to decide which components of their day to day tasks can be done from a home office. If their job is done mostly on a computer, the transition will likely be a smooth one.
3. Ask yourself how you are currently communicating with staff. Is it via email? IM? Or is face time crucial and, if so, why. Answering these questions will likely demonstrate that you don't need the person in the office.
4. How is productivity currently being managed? The stigma for working from home is that employees watch TV all day but most studies of telecommuting employees find them to be more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Managers should ask if they care how and when the job gets done, or if the end-result is the most important factor. Employees are generally so grateful to have the option to work from home, they are willing to report on their accomplishments daily in order to continue telecommuting.
5. Are your systems in place? Check with your IT team to gauge the potential issues associated with telecommuting and system security, and ask for their suggestions for the best web-based tools to make it a success.
6. Test it out. With your staff on board and systems for communication in place, start by allowing telecommuting one day each week. Work out any kinks as you go along. Like a study including data from Best Buy and another conducted by Stanford University, you may see an increase in productivity and want to further boost the days your staff can work remotely.
If you are an employee seeking more work flexibility, present the above steps to your supervisor. Explain that more and more companies are hiring telecommuters in order to reduce overhead costs as well as to attract top talent. And be sure to frame your request to work from home as a way to boost your productivity as an employee, rather than talking about how much this will benefit you personally. As more businesses jump on board and take advantage of the savings on their bottom line, more positions can open up, ultimately adding more jobs and reducing the unemployment rate.