Archive for March 2010
Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to update everyone on the result of last week’s poll. As of today, 72% that have responded do not agree with the legislation and 28% agree. This topic set a record for the most traffic on my blog in one day and for the the week in the brief history of my blog. Thanks to all who responded. In a few weeks, I may post more information about provisions in the law once more information is available.
Now, on to today’s topic…
March Madness is now down to the final 4 teams that will play next weekend to get to the finalists who will square off on Monday April 5th for the championship game. My question to you is this; what multi-day sporting event captures your attention most?
Vote below for your favorite event:
Click below to see the Lawsuit filed:
The House of Representatives voted, now it’s your turn.
In December I asked the question “What is the first sign of Christmas?” Now I am asking; what is the first sign of spring? March 20th is rapidly approaching (thankfully) and the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is within sight. I will offer a few thoughts of my own and welcome your comments.
- You see a crocus peeking up from under the snow
- You see your first Red-winged Blackbird (a true sign of spring rather than seeing your first Robin)
- Spring training baseball games on TV
- You look at the window and can see the grass in your lawn on a regular basis
- The sap is running (sap for maple syrup not your neighbor in Nike’s)
- You go to work and it is light as you leave your driveway
- You ride home from work and it is light the entire way
- You clean last year’s dirt off of your golf clubs in anticipation of the first round
- You filed your tax return
- Your favorite baseball team is undefeated and favorite player is batting .400
- You have an unexplainable foolish feeling of optimism that your back will survive another winter of shoveling snow
- Your thoughts to turn love, nay lust – for that new lawn mower you saw at the hardware store
- You live in the North East Ohio snow belt, it’s almost Easter and they are calling for 3 feet of lake effect snow
- The first day it heats up to 60 degrees and you catch a whiff of the Earth “waking up”
- Reaping the benefits of “springing forward” on the morning of March 14, 2010
Have a good week and let’s look on the bright side.
In part one I established the facts about the benefits of telecommuting for the employer and the employee. In this part, I want to talk about some businesses, job functions and employees for which telecommuting will or will not work. This is mostly common sense so I will try to be brief.
Let’s begin with businesses.
- Retail or any business that has a need for face to face contact with customers will not work. (However the back office operations may be fine for telecommuting.)
- Businesses with a great deal of inter-office collaboration amongst a team of employees are not good candidates for telecommuting. Teleconferencing or Skype may not give the same results as true face to face collaboration.
- You can rule out service industries that require being on site at the customer location – carpet cleaning, landscaping, remodeling, plumbing and similar trades. However service industries such as accountants, engineers and attorneys can be very effective working for a client from their home.
One of the advantages of working from home can be the lack of interruptions when away from co-workers and the drop in visits that can be a productivity killer. Not all people can stay focused on the task at hand when working from home, but more about that later. With the advantages of using a digital filing system which has become more widespread, there is no longer the need to be anchored down to an office just to access the filing cabinets.
What job functions work for telecommuting?
- If a company is still paper intensive, then paper handlers such as accounts payable and accounts receivable coordinators will be stuck at the office where the paper is located unless they cart it home. If the documents are digital, then accessing them electronically and working from home is not a problem.
- A human resource professional that is interfacing with employees will have to be in the office. However, on days that they are writing performance reviews, analyzing retirement or medical plan changes or making changes to policies they can work effectively from home.
- From experience I can say that accountants can work from home as well as tax preparers and payroll processors.
Now let’s look at the type of people that can or cannot work well from home.
- People who have children or pets (or spouses) that are at home who demand attention even if they are in an office out of the way are not good candidates for telecommuting.
- People who need supervision while working are not good candidates for telecommuting. In this case I am speaking of a person who is new to their position and need hands on assistance.
- Of course, there are some people who may need the structure of an office and will not do well in a solitary environment at home.
To evaluate telecommuting, assess the employee’s performance of the tasks assigned. Does it really matter that an employee takes a 2 hour break in the middle of the afternoon but works 2 hours at night and gets the work done? That kind of flexibility is what will create a win-win situation.
I have offered a few ideas to ponder but each situation needs to be addressed on its own merits. By using common sense and having an open mind, telecommuting can be available to a wider range of people than you might realize. Finally, to business owners I would advise consulting an HR professional to make sure you have a good telecommuting policy in place before implementing it throughout your company.
As I sit in my home office writing this; I have more affordable technology at my finger tips than was imaginable 10 years ago. I have fast broadband internet access that enables me to work remotely on a client’s network sending and receiving massive files without a delay. The internet connection I use in my office is provided by a $50 wireless router. I can sit in a meeting via teleconference using Skype for free and a $50 web camera. I can scan, print, copy and fax documents with an all-in-one device that was delivered to my door, tax included for less than $150. In addition, I have caller ID, voicemail, and unlimited long distance with digital phone from my cable provider. I also have a 500 gigabyte USB storage device the size of a 3 X 5 index card that is a half inch thick which can fit into a shirt pocket. That device automatically performs a backup on my laptop computer several times a day and it cost less than $100. 10 years ago that kind of storage was not practical for an individual. In a recent blog, I announced a redesigned web site that I completed in several hours. The web site costs less than $100 per year to maintain and comes with email accounts and plenty of storage. As I mentioned, I also have a blog that I designed and is linked to my web site. The software for the blog and web site was free and very easy to use. I can sign up for Google Analytics to get statistics on my web site traffic – also a free service. Some of the technology that I have and take for granted was not available to me 10 years ago when I was working for a division of a billion dollar publicly traded company!
I also have the ability to use email marketing such as constant contact as many times as I want a year for less than the price of an advertisement in a medium sized newspaper. I can start a fan page for my business on Facebook and use Twitter to keep my name in front of customers or potential customers – all for free. In addition, businesses can now access resources over the internet for things like graphic design, accounting, payroll services, engineering, HR consulting and so on.
If I can do this, what about businesses that are larger that have many employees? Of course they can. The point I am trying to make has nothing to do with my fabulously equipped office or my technical skills. It is this: companies need to take the next logical step in the technological revolution and tear down the walls of the corporate office and embrace the concept of the virtual office. If the new normal is a slower growth economy (sluggish sales) how can the bottom line grow? I believe that eliminating large corporate offices is the answer. Companies can reduce space to a smaller hub that is available to employees when face to face contact with other departments, staff members or customers is needed. The benefits are not only in facilities costs but a huge quality of life improvement to workers who can work from home a significant amount of the time.
A happier employee can bring better productivity and less stress which also can lead to lower health care costs. The value to an organization of a happy and motivated work force is immeasurable. In a recent Fortune magazine survey of the 100 best companies to work for, 84 of the 100 best had a telecommuting policy that allowed employees to work from home at least 20% of the time (that means 1 day per week). See the link to the online article below:
I know there are limitations for telecommuting, but company’s large and small need to consider embracing the concept. The technology is now here and is very affordable and it is good for the bottom line and the employee. In part two of this discussion I will talk about the types of businesses, job functions and people that are best suited for telecommuting.
Have a good week.