Telecommuting, when handled properly, can cut costs while increasing productivity and morale. When handled poorly, it can suck the life out of an organization.
A Capital Associated Industries look at hundreds of companies that tried telecommunting reveals the five problem areas:
- A lack of policies in place before implementation. This is a variation of the old “ready, fire, aim” approach. Too many companies jumped into telecommuting without having good policies in place. So decisions seemed based on a whim — leaving managers and workers unhappy. Worst-case scenario: A company can end up violating employment law because an uninformed manager who had no policy guidelines ended up making a wrong decision.
- Too much technology spending. Eager managers decided they needed to beef up IT to add on telecommunting-related bells and whistles. Often, they learned, basic IT resources would have been just fine, at least for the near term.
- Poorly trained supervisors. Managing offsite people takes some skill and understanding, and too many companies thought their supervisors could get by with the same skills they’d been using for onsite people.
- A square peg in a round hole. Some companies — after trying to make it work — learned their business and culture just didn’t fit the telecommuting model. They never considered in the beginning that telecommuting doesn’t work for everyone in every type of environment.
- No pilot program. Fearful of appearing to show favoritism, some firm tried wholesale telecommuting, OK-ing offsite work for large chunks of the workforce, instead of testing the program with a smaller group first.