Is a Remote Workforce the Right Solution for Your Business?
used with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Site
Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate whether a remote workforce suits your business.
1. Are you in a client-service business?
2. Do your employees spend more than 50 percent of their time at client locations?
3. Do most of your employees have laptop computers?
4. Do you have employees who travel frequently as part of their jobs?
5. Do the majority of your employees daily spend more than one hour commuting to and from work?
6. Is the majority of your business conducted in a non-regulated industry?
7. Do your employees have the technology tools needed to work remotely?
8. Does your company have the ability to share documents securely?
9. Do your IT professionals support users in multiple locations?
10. Are your employees open to the idea of working remotely?
To see if your business should consider a remote workforce, add up the number of “yes” answers that you made to the questions above.
7-10: If you answered “yes” to seven or more questions, a comprehensive remote-work program and usage policy has the potential to significantly improve your business performance and employee satisfaction. Read on for additional information on the recommended infrastructure and protocol to best implement this across your organization.
4-6: If you answered “yes” to four-six questions, you would likely benefit from investing in specific communication and collaboration tools, like Office 365 , and implementing a remote-work policy.
0-3: If you answered “yes” to three or fewer questions, you may not need a full remote-work program at this time, but you would benefit from establishing a remote-work policy. The policy should outline the proper protocol for employees to follow on the occasions they need to work from home.
How can a company get started with telework initiatives?
There are several steps to consider when getting started with telework initiatives:
1. First of all, does your company have a formal or consistent policy around telework? Working with company leaders and HR, telework policies can actually improve productivity and morale, while setting the foundation for technology implementation.
2. Secondly, consider your internal and remote technology capabilities. Can your employees easily communicate and collaborate with one another both inside and outside of the office environment? Incorporating internal collaboration tools such as SharePoint and Lync, and remote work technologies such as cloud computing, will enable employees to conduct business more effectively and efficiently while in the office and away from the office.
3. Third, security of your internal and remote systems. While accessibility and instant collaboration are essential in today’s business climate, many companies make the mistake of turning to public networking or social media platforms to exchange sensitive ideas and information. Advancements in collaboration and communications technology, such as Office 365, enable an increasingly mobile workforce to work more securely than ever before.
Tips for Delivering the Remote-Work Announcement
A successful deployment of a remote-work program results in a combination of technologies with policies. After you have implemented the proper remote-work technology infrastructure, it is important to broadly communicate the usage policy. Setting clear guidelines and expectations right from the start helps establish trust between company management and staff, and it ensures effective use of the remote-work policy across the organization. Consider using the following three steps to help you unveil a new remote-work program:
•Step 1. Develop and share a plan that has clear expectations.
This includes appropriate use of company property, such as computers and mobile phones, and guidelines on reimbursable expenses.
•Step 2. Address any potential concerns. Make it very clear that working remotely will not influence raises, bonuses, or promotions. Doing this reiterates performance expectations and company reward programs.
•Step 3. Establish clear channels of communication with expectations and schedules. Establishing and effectively communicating a remote-work policy sets ground rules and helps to build trust across the entire organization.