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Consultants Offer Tips For Successful Telecommuting

Just like in an office, employees must know what's expected of them, while managers need to communicate and monitor productivity.
Managers of telecommuters should focus on results and communications, according to tips released by Phoenix-based Viack Corp. Thursday.

The company recently created the Guide to Implementing and Managing a Telework Program, which gives managers and supervisors advice for running effective telework programs.

The company estimates that 45 million employees work from home. Amy Fadida, senior vice president of Viack, said in a prepared statement that although executives have valid concerns about successfully managing workers from afar, there's actually little difference between supervising teleworkers and workers in an office.

In both cases, employees must know what's expected of them, while managers need to communicate and monitor productivity. The guide includes a tip sheet for creating program coordinators, committees, policies and training programs. It also contains advice on how to identify employees who are suitable for the work, recommendations on technology, advice on protecting electronic communications and insight on evaluating the programs.

"We expect the number of teleworkers to jump exponentially, allowing organization in the public and private sectors to realize the financial, environmental and social benefits of teleworking," Fadida said.

Nucleus Research put out a brief report last month stating that many managers are reluctant to institute telework programs, fearing loss of control.

Their report, "Five Steps to a More Mobile Workforce," also provides tips for security, support, technology, policies and procedures and training. It suggests allowing employees to telecommute once weekly and establishing ahead of time who pays for their Internet connection. It states that employees may be more productive when commuting-related stress is eliminated and that in-person meetings can take place on other days.

Both companies are among several organizations increasing promotion of telecommuting now that Americans have felt the pinch of higher fuel prices.