A recent article in The New York Times, “Tensions Raise Specter of Gas at $5 a Gallon”, got me thinking about the added perk of being a telecommuter.
My husband, who works roughly 16 miles from our home, can spend close to $60 per week and nearly two hours in the car each day fighting I-95 traffic. Where we live, public transportation isn’t an option, and while his car gets good fuel mileage, we’ll spend $3100 this year just to get him to the office. If prices continue to increase, so will that burden.
Luckily, unlike so many American families, only one of us is in need of $3100 worth of gas each year. If prices increase, many people—especially those with child care costs—will be forced to take jobs closer to home or quit work to become stay-at-home parents. The salary or job won’t be worth the cost of going to work.
The good news is that many organizations have already begun offering the telecommuting option as a way to keep their best employees on board. As reported in the October issue of Communication Briefings, a survey by Accountemps reveals that 24% of organizations plan to offer flexible work hours or telecommuting options in 2012 in order to attract and retain good employees.
If you are considering allowing employees to telecommute, ask yourself these questions to make sure it’s the right choice for your team:
- Will my boss approve of the arrangement? First and foremost, gain approval from your boss and HR department.
- Can the employee’s work be performed from anywhere without affecting the performance of the team? In some cases, the person simply needs to be in the office.
- Can I trust this employee? Employees will need to meet their objectives largely unsupervised, even as the TV, sunny backyard and bed beckon them away from their PCs. If you question a person’s work ethic, don’t offer the telecommute option to him or her.
- Can we support the virtual arrangement? You’ll need to provide computer and phone equipment and access to restricted or secure files. Ensure that you have that ability and the IT support for the job.
- What ground rules must we set? Spell out what your expectations are for remote employees. Do you want them to check in daily? How should they do that? How accessible do you want them to be? How will you conduct meetings, performance reviews and so on? If you set ground rules, you increase your chances that the arrangement succeeds.
Does your organization offer telecommuting options? If so, what tips can you share for making it a win-win situation for the employee and the organization?