Did you know? There are organisations in the world that operate solely on the telecommuting philosophy. This means that these organisations operate solely on the back of telecommuting employees. In other words, their human resource programme revolves around their telecommuting programme. It can be said that these types of organisations are going to be the organisations of the future, especially if you consider the manner in which technology and society are progressing hand in hand. In fact, we spoke about the pros and cons of a telecommuting programme in a post, last year.
If you’re unsure whether telecommuting is for your business or not, that post will be quite helpful because this article simply assumes that you’re interested in either establishing an effective telecommuting programme or making your existing programme more effective. Whether you want to establish a telecommuting programme for your business or make an existing programme better, you’ll have to introduce certain components and elements into the existing policy ecosphere. The trick to all this, though, is identifying the relevant components and elements.
Determining the Scope of the Telecommuting Programme
We’ve already talked about businesses with full-commitment telecommuting programmes. Those are the ones that operate solely through remote employees. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those companies that don’t have any telecommuting programme and prefer to have all employees in one place. These are the ones that are traditional in nature.
There is any number of stations between these two ends of the spectrum. Where your business falls on this spectrum depends entirely on the scope of your telecommuting programme because it isn’t always all or nothing. You could have gradients and levels of telecommuting on the basis of various factors such as the role being fulfilled, the kind of job responsibilities being handled, geographies location and even the self-discipline of individuals. What suits your business will be something that you’ll have to figure out or discover because the needs of every business are different.
Protecting the Business from Telecommute Risks
Telecommute programmes can bring with them droves of benefits for the business but they also come with inherent challenges. The foremost of these is, of course, security. Businesses that deal with sensitive information tend to shy away from telecommuting programmes because they aren’t completely sure about their data. Since such businesses already have systems in place to vet individuals and determine how much they can be trusted, the only telecommute related challenge is an inadvertent release of sensitive data.
For example, telecommuting employees can be working from anywhere. They could be operating from a public Wi-Fi, a hotel, or even mobile networks. The problem with all of these networks is that they’re not as secure as a professionally protected network such as the ones that enterprises have. This means that the employees can become unaware victims of cyber theft. The solution to this problem is to have enterprise class VPN since they can be managed to counter such threats, irrespective of where the employee is based.
Simplifying Data Storage and Transfer for Telecommuters
Another way through which data security can be a concern is storage dynamics. Businesses often worry about their employees storing sensitive information on their devices and then losing track of them. This is a concern that becomes more pertinent with employees who are a part of the organisation’s telecommuting programmes. The best and possibly the only certain way of countering such dangers are cloud data storage and transfer solutions. Cloud storage systems, especially enterprise class solutions, tend to come with their inherent authentication and encryption algorithms which can ensure the sanctity of the data in question.
Not only will cloud storage and transfer solutions counter security risks but also make operations more streamlined and efficient. For instance, there are web applications and solution suites designed for specific industries that allow files to be stored and updated online by multiple users. These types of software suites carry stamping modules wherein information such as when the file was modified and by whom is stored with the file, itself.
Ensuring Proficiency in Writing Communication Skills
Virtually every telecommute programme, irrespective of how big the company is, depends on written communication. You can try to incorporate video calling and screen sharing as much as you want but there are only so many such calls your employees will take in a day. Employees will take one such call to thrash out ideas and then spend the rest of the day communication either through emails or chat. It is, in fact, in many places encouraged by businesses because written communication creates verifiable documentation.
The only problem is that every individual isn’t very good at writing. Writing, whether it is a business email or highbrow poetry, is an art form. Like all art forms, it is a skill that takes nurturing over time. Consequently, everyone isn’t that good at writing. Unfortunately, telecommute programmes depend on people’s writing communication skills. Poor writing communication skills result in miscommunication that causes low-efficiency levels and poor Returns on Investments (ROIs).
Therefore, one of the elements you should focus on before putting a telecommuting programme in place in your business is if your employees will be able to handle the added written communication load. If such capability doesn’t exist in your workforce, then it is recommended that you inculcate it through workshops and training systems.
Time Management Tools and Assessment Functionalities
The concept of the Big Brother is anathema to most people as it should be. Businesses that try to take on that role, whether covertly or overtly, tend to be looked in the same vein. However, sometimes, businesses overcompensate while trying to not be Big Brother. While monitoring every employee every moment of his professional life isn’t acceptable, gathering data on what every employee of the company is doing is something that is not only acceptable but critical.
After all, if you don’t gather data then how will you recognise the weakest link in performance metrics, the bottlenecks in process flows, and the low-hanging efficiency fruits? It is easy to ignore data gathering in order to be politically correct in the traditional office setup. However, when it comes to telecommuting employees, there is an opportunity to gather data without being dubbed the Big Brother. There are numerous time management tools that facilitate time logging and efficiency assessment without requiring visual monitoring of the individual on the device.
A telecommuting programme that uses such tools can give the business a huge advantage in the market simply because the business can deduce critical process flow intelligence from the data it gathers. It all boils down to better resource and time management. When you have solid data, you can improve your business’s resource allocation. Your business’s telecommute programme can make data gathering ethical while traditional systems may not.
Recruitment Strategy Modifications to Suit Telecommuting
Every employee may not be suitable for the telecommute setup. Some may actually require different work environments to be at their best. It is about attitude more than skill to handle something. When you initiate your telecommuting programme, you may find that your employees or even your senior management aren’t on-board with the idea. A lot of these individuals won’t be able to survive your telecommuting programme.
Therefore, unless you’re a completely new start-up, you’ll have to incorporate your telecommuting programme into your operations slowly. You’ll have to slowly phase it in to give people the chance to try out the programme for themselves and see if it works for them. Simultaneously, you’ll have to watch their output and productivity so that you can spot drops and improvements.
More critically, you’ll have to commit to your new programme by changing your recruitment system. If in the medium to long term, you want to go remote then you’ll have to hire accordingly. It won’t be easy but if a virtual business is important for you, then you can make it happen.