Thanks to modern technology, managers now have a ton of flexibility in how to handle their employees. Most business trips can now be scrapped in favor of a mix of videoconferencing and cloud computing, which allows you to share documents instantly and speak to people from all over the world in real time. Innovations in computer software give you the chance to hire on freelancers or contract workers from anywhere on the planet to fill in the gap of work your full time staff can’t address. And while that’s a useful technique for part time workers, the same structure can be utilized to have your full time employees work from home. Whether that’s a permanent change or a strategy you only employ from time to time is up to you. But there’s no question it provides all sorts of options. At the same time it isn’t a perfect system. Here is a quick look at some of the pros and cons of allowing employees to work from home.
First, the perks of telecommuting. For one, it frees up office space. If expenses are tight you could potentially switch out to a smaller office, or even give up that dedicated space altogether. Your employees can deliver their work remotely, and thanks to desktop sharing programs you can even look on while they operate, as if they were right there with you. You can also book more work than space you have for people, doubling or even tripling your staff during a busy period without concern.
At the same time, this situation creates a bit of a management problem. You’ll have to find a new way to track your employees’ work, since you won’t have that face time together to check in on them. You’ll have to worry about what’s actually being accomplished, which can be especially tricky if your employees are paid hourly. And bringing everyone together for a staff meeting could be next to impossible, especially if everyone is on a different schedule and you give up your primary office space.
While management is tricky, you could expect an ever stronger workflow than you’ve come to see from your in house staff. Salaried employees are notorious for wasting time. They’ll chat around the coffee machine, troll the internet for funny memes to share, and basically stare at the clock until quitting time. This is especially the case if they are handling a very small piece of a large project, and don’t really feel any sense of ownership. When your employees work from home, they have all the incentive in the world to get their work done as fast as possible, and to deliver the goods the first time. After all, once they’ve handled their tasks for the day, they’ll be able to take advantage of being out of the office.
There’s no reason you cannot create a work schedule that takes care of every member of the team. You’ll have to trust people to do the right thing, and manage themselves just as if you were there staring over their shoulder. But in the end, offering up an optional work from home schedule will reveal which employees are committed and in for the long haul, and which ones are just going through the motions. Those that take their job seriously will reward your trust with better work and faster delivery. Those who try to take advantage will end up losing their spot on the team. In all, you’ll have a bit more to manage, but the positives may well outweigh any negatives that come out of it.