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Telecommuting to the rescue – part two

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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.


Written by pacelinebiz

March 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with , ,

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