For many organizations, having employees work remotely is fairly common. After all, it’s 2019 and technology has enabled us to be connected in ways that we were never able to be in the past. If you, the business owner, has never thought about remote work, chances are that you have been (or will be) approached by one of your staff about this possibility. Now, is remote work right for your organization? And if so, what does it look like? First, determine if remote work makes sense. A few questions that you can ask are as follows:
• What is the potential impact of customers or clients if work is done remotely?
• How does remote work impact team dynamics?
• How will you monitor the work of those who have a home office?
• Which positions in your organization could work remotely? Which could not?
• If remote work makes sense, will workers be able to do so five days per week, or will they need to be on-site specific days of the week?
Of course, if you own a manufacturing plant, the bulk of work will have to be done at the factory, so remote work just isn’t possible. However, if you own a company that primarily interacts with clients across the country, for example, remote work may be a very good option.
If you’ve determined that some or all of the positions in your organization can be remote, you will want to develop clear and concise guidelines. For example, say that you are based in Saskatoon and one of your employees is moving to Winnipeg and wants to work remotely. They are an excellent employee and you’ve determined that the position can be remote. A couple of items to think about: What is the expectation of the employee to be at the Saskatoon office? Never, once per quarter, etc.? And if they are expected to occasionally be at the Saskatoon office, is your organization prepared to pay for air fare, hotels, etc.? These are items that will need to be communicated to the employee prior to this arrangement being finalized. If the position is relatively new in your organization, you may not want to make the position remote right away. It’s important to first determine whether or not a specific position is best suited as a full-time office role.
There are a number of advantages to remote work. One is that you will potentially spend less money on physical office space. Another is that it may improve employee retention. For example, the time and expense of commuting are issues that staff won’t have to deal with, and will likely be greatly appreciated.
Remote work won’t be for everyone. Some individuals may feel too isolated by working at home. Others may get too distracted working outside of the office, which could lead to performance issues or other problems. When interviewing for remote positions, ensure that you ask the right questions in order to find out if the candidate will be a good fit for remote work.
If you go the way of allowing employees to work remotely, ensure that you use technology to your advantage and find ways to keep team members engaged with one another.