Business/E-Business
Commentary
8/7/2009
03:07 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
Commentary
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Tips For Virtual Offices

The Worldwide Workplace Council has released a report titled "5 Simple Steps to a Virtual Workplace Program," which identifies how SMBs can achieve the flexibility and employee satisfaction that can come from telecommuting.

The Worldwide Workplace Council has released a report titled "5 Simple Steps to a Virtual Workplace Program," which identifies how SMBs can achieve the flexibility and employee satisfaction that can come from telecommuting.The Worldwide Workplace Council is an initiative by Citrix Online to promote a "location-independent workforce." Last May, the organization conducted a survey of business attitudes toward telecommuting and working from home and found that 53 percent of small business owners and 73 percent of the entire workforce wanted that option. The same survey found that small business owners are able to work remotely far more often than other workers.

Nevertheless, the survey found some resistance: more than a quarter of American small business owners believe they need their employees in the office, for reasons including a fear of lost productivity and technological considerations. So there's a gap between what small businesses want and what they think can can actually do.

The new report aims to help businesses fill that gap by outlining five steps for effective implementation of a remote-working program. The steps could be taken by a business owner or by an employee trying to convince the owner or manager that a virtual office could work. The steps boil down to:

1. Determine the specific needs of your organization. You need to outline the benefits that remote working can bring, from flexibility in hiring to reduced office expenses. The report recommends surveying employees to gauge their interest and concerns at this point.



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2. Go online to identify best practices for managing a virtual workplace. The report provides links to resources for information and advice on virtual offices.

3. Evaluate core technologies best suited to enabling employees to remain productive. As said, this is one of the main concerns of small business owners when it comes to allowing their employees to work from home. The report recommends Web conferencing and remote tech support among the measures to address this issue.

4. Set policies and guidelines for managing your virtual workforce. Face it, not every employee is a good candidate for working at home. The report suggests considering issues like length of service, performance, and home office setup and security in setting remote working policies.

5. Set benchmarks and measure effectiveness. Especially if you're trying to convince your boss or manager to implement a program, make sure you provide a method to show that it's working.

The new report and the May survey it's based on can both be downloaded from WorkShifting.com, the Worldwide Workplace Council's website.

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