In AgCareers.com’s recent webinar, Telecommuting as a Flexible Staffing Approach, Dr. Di Ann Sanchez shared countless advantages of adopting a telecommuting policy. Surprisingly the benefits were mutually beneficial to both employees and employers alike. She sighted big wins for companies like increased retention, boosted productivity and improved efficiency. Telecommuting employees also profited from this flexible work arrangement by reducing stress and illness, along with improving their overall job satisfaction.
In a recent study, AgCareers.com revealed of the companies offering flexible work arrangements 60% to 70% provided a work from home option to employees. In some cases ag employers even utilized telecommuting options as means to compete against other employers for talent. If your agribusiness company is ready to move forward with allowing employees to telecommute, here are a few tips to help you get started:
1) Create a Policy – Your first step should be to think through the details. What will the company pay for? What will the employee pay for? Who pays for the furniture? What are the home office requirements? How will you track hours and overtime? A thorough policy detailing procedures and expectations need to be outlined.
2) Define Which Roles are Eligible – Many roles are easily adaptable to telecommuting, while others just don’t make sense. Determine which positions would be considered acceptable for the employee to telecommute and those that don’t work.
3) Define Who is Suitable – Create a list of the characteristics you’ll need in a telecommuting employee. There are many attributes that ensure your telecommuting employee will be successful in their new environment. Ideally telecommuters are self-starters, not easily distracted, comfortable working alone, and have a proven history of managing their work responsibilities and meeting goals/deadlines.
4) Have an Agreement – Once you offer an employee the opportunity to telecommute have the employee acknowledge with a signature that “they” have read your company telecommuting policy and will comply with the requirements and expectations. You may even consider listing repercussions of failing to comply – including the loss of telecommuting.
5) Keep Connected – Once you have employees who are telecommuting be sure your company is intentional in keeping these employees in tune with the business even though they may not be in the office every day. Be sure to provide regular updates and keep clear lines of communication to the main office(s). Consider using skype and video conferencing options to help maintain more personal interaction.
6) Train Managers – Don’t assume that your managers will know how to effectively manage a telecommuting employee. Provide some tips and guidelines that will help them monitor the employee’s performance and be mindful of the intentional interaction required to keep connected.
7) Comply with Laws – There are many both federal and state legalities that should be carefully considered when implementing a telecommuting policy. How will your company handle work related injuries in the home while on the job or FLSA compliance in tracking hours, overtime, and limiting off-the-clock work?
8) Tech Support – Ensure that telecommuting employees will have the technology required to perform their job duties. Think through simple but often overlooked aspects such as virus-protection and back-up of employee files. What steps does the employee need to take to keep company information confidential and secure? Finally, how will the employee telecommute in the event of a disaster or loss of power, phone service, and internet?