More companies are seeing telecommuting as a valuable way to boost recruiting and retention. But it’s not an arrangement that should be jumped into without extensive planning.
Here’s a list of things companies should have ready before letting employees work from home:
- Communication tools — Instant Messaging (IM), either through the corporate network or a commercial client like Google Talk, can help remote workers stay connected. Some companies also use the video cameras built into many computers for teleconferencing.
- Basic training — Before sending anyone home to work, managers need to make sure IT’s given the employees all the training they need to work away from the help desk. Otherwise, technical difficulties could get in the way of productivity.
- Hardware and software — Some companies shell out for everything employees are going to use. Others take a less expensive approach and require workers to use at least some of their own equipment. To do that, survey employees to find out what they have and what IT will need to provide.
- Electronic forms — If employees work from home full time, you’ll need a way to distribute corporate forms electronically. Programs like Microsoft InfoPath and Adobe Acrobat let users edit PDF documents. Also, you’ll need a way for employees to sign forms electronically.