All small businesses and organisations that propose to implement teleworking should have appropriate policies and procedures in place to ensure that the transition is managed well. This section of the Module highlights four key steps to engage in:
- Make (and implement) a plan
- Retain flexibility
- Counter social isolation
- Supervise proactively
Making a Plan
Employees can stay connected to work and businesses can continue to operate despite everyone not being in the same place at the same time. Providing flexibility to employees also involves having a Telework plan that can be clearly understood. Having a plan enables your business to be more prepared to reduce time and energy waste for employers and employees.
Your plan will include whatever suits your small business and employees, however these are some points to consider:
- A positive attitude to teleworking
- Agreed end results and outcomes
- Outline your business's purpose and the key objectives
- Good Communication
- Planning & Organisation
- Trust in your teleworkers ability to self-manage
- Outcome based performance targets and regular reviews
When making a plan to introduce Telework, employers should address the following questions:
- What are your expectations of employees in being available outside of normal work hours?
- How will you ensure that teleworkers will maintain social connectivity with other staff members and what technologies can you offer?
Draw up a plan that supplements your Telework policies and procedures, so that you are prepared for and understand the issues involved. Simply drifting into allowing employees working from home can sometimes cause friction, misunderstanding and loss of benefits from telework.
Telework provides employees with more choices as it offers flexibility in scheduling, freedom to be out of the office and to freedom to choose where and when to work. Employees are able to deal with their carer responsibilities, and have the flexibility to spend time with their families. When supported by appropriate planning, regular communication and outcomes-based performance management, these freedoms for employees can result in corresponding benefits for employers.
There are social and cultural implications involved with telework that impact upon family and work life.
Without the office environment and access to management and other staff, employees could become socially isolated. Social isolation can lead to a less motivated employee or an employee that feels unable to produce their best work as they are not sure where they fit in. Motivation for telework employees can sometimes be more important than for employees working at the office. Employees who telework may feel more pressure to submit extra work in order for it not to appear that they are doing less due to remote working. This kind of pressure is created from a lack of social support from colleagues, and can lead to lower engagement.
In order to avoid this issue, teleworkers need to have a good working relationship with their colleagues. This can be achieved through telework employee support programs, videoconferencing, regular scheduled time at the office, use of unified communications solutions and social media and regular team building events. This can increase job satisfaction, efficiency and output.
It is understandable that an employer's largest concern about teleworking is fear of insufficient control and supervision. Trust plays a significant role in remote management, and once achieved, can lead to:
- Greater Productivity
- Improved Staff Retention
- Lower Operating Costs
However, supervising teleworkers is much the same as supervising employees who travel or have projects that require them to step out of the office. It is essential to maintain good communication as well as regular monitoring of progress based on agreed objectives. Depending on your business and the way you run it, there may be some new approaches to management and communication that will help you implement telework.
It may take time to adjust, but remember that observing your employees work at their desks does not necessarily guarantee that they're being productive. Management by results rather than visual observation works better with teleworkers. A good supervisor will focus on the results of a person's work rather than on the process.
The following will help you enhance your employee's performance:
- Defined Instructions
- Performance Criteria
- Check Points
- Providing Regular Feedback