AgCareers.com recently offered a webinar for HR professionals regarding tips for setting up a telecommuting policy for their employees. I attended not only as a telecommuter but also as someone who helps guide companies on such topics. If you’d like to read the thoughts from the employer’s perspective, check out Setting up a Telecommuting Plan for Your Employees, on our Talent Harvest blog.
As someone who has been telecommuting full time for nearly 6 years, I had quite a few ‘ah-ha’ moments while listening to the presenter. Dr. Di Ann Sanchez shared a ton of great stats that support creating a telecommuting plan for your employees. Right off the bat she mentioned that there are almost no 100% telecommuters in the general workplace. Most employees who telecommute average one day a week, either Monday or Friday. I’ve been a 100% teleworker for 6 years now, rather than viewing myself as the odd woman out on this fact, I’m looking at the glass half full and considering myself one of the privileged few! After all, 80% of employees consider telework a job perk! It was a great bit of information for me to hear though, the struggles, and benefits, of working from home are real! While two thirds of people want to work from home, they, and their employers, know it can be a challenge to be in a home office 100% of the time.
A few years ago I wrote an article for our weekly e-newsletter with Tips for Working from Home. Throughout the webinar there were many times when a stat or tip were shared and it reminded me of the tips I wrote long ago and how critical they can be for your own sanity! If I were to revise my tip list today, I would add just one more piece of advice. Have a structured schedule for communicating with your supervisor. Employees who work from home are 13% more efficient than those who work in an office environment, but are less likely to be promoted. Basically is boils down to out of sight out of mind!
I often tell people who think it is so great that I work from home, that yes, it is great that I’ve been able to keep my job, that I love, while I’ve made two relocations for my husband’s job. However, it certainly has its pros and cons. When it comes to missing out on promotions, I’d say that’s one of the cons. This can be avoided by scheduling regular visits with your supervisors and having a mutual understanding that those connects, whether they are via phone or face-to-face, may be a little longer than similar meetings with in-office employees. While I have regularly scheduled connects with my supervisor we also have what we call, “this is me walking into your office for a chat” moments. Think about it, managers know more about their employees in the same office as them because they have chats with them by the copier, at lunch, in the hallway or in their office. Telecommuters shouldn’t be denied those same quick chats. Those managers are better able to keep watch on the employees’ motivation, accomplishments, and set-backs just by being in such close proximity. All of which makes managing the employee much easier.
Our unscheduled chats aren’t everyday occurrences, but we both understand that they are needed to keep me informed about things that are happening in the business but also they help my manager stay connected to me and my projects. Training your managers to manage teleworkers was a big component of the webinar content so if you are, or are considering telecommuting make sure your manager understands the commitment it takes on their end as well!