High gas prices and faster internet connections are making telecommuting—the use of technology to work from a home office—more and more appealing.
It’s no surprise, then, that 74% of high-tech workers think having the option of telecommuting is “important.”
A lawyer will warn you about lots of (important) things you need to consider before allowing a telecommute: Who is liable for injuries at a home office? Will private and proprietary information be secure? How can you ensure productivity?
Simply maintaining communication and avoiding liability can make your corporate culture—what ultimately sets you apart from the competition—fall by the wayside.
Here are six easy ways to make sure that even when telecommuting, your business remains best in class.
1. Make face time
If the team never meets face-to-face, it might never see eye-to-eye. In order to succeed, everyone will need to be on the same page. Arrange meetings, go on retreats, or meet for dinner. Telecommuters who don’t get to see their supervisors and colleagues face-to-face may become isolated, or feel like they’re missing out on promotions or other opportunities.
2. Reinvest Savings
Telecommuters can cost as much as 70% less than conventional office staff. And they know it. Reinvest a portion of your savings back into your staff: bonuses, gifts, meal allowances, benefits, vacations, retreats, and more. When staff don’t feel recognized, morale can be low, and turnover can be high—either way, your corporate culture will suffer.
3. Use technology effectively
You could e-mail spreadsheets back and forth. You could also save them on a floppy disk and Fedex them to eachother. If that doesn’t sound appealing, why not use some easy and affordable software that makes collaboration and telecommuting easy? At TribeHR, we use Harvest, Basecamp, Google Apps, and of course, TribeHR.
4. Give everyone the option
It’s great to save office space by having new employees telecommute, but don’t forget about your loyal workhorses. If you don’t offer them the chance to telecommute, they might never ask for the opportunity. And if your most experienced staff feel ignored, you’re in big trouble.
5. Personal space in a shared office
Make sure that staff who are only on-site part-time still feel like they belong there. If you give them a secure place to keep their stuff, they’ll feel more invested in the company.
6. Brand your home offices
Because you can. Send corporate letterhead, pencils, business cards, and anything else you would have in a normal office (a mini fridge?). If your staff feel like they’re “at work,” you won’t have to fear that they’re not actually “doing work.”