Teleworking, or working from home or a remote location, is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s the new normal. Currently, about half of the U.S. workforce has a job that is compatible with teleworking.
Why is teleworking so popular? Several reasons. For business owners, teleworking can really save you money, since office space tends to be one of the biggest costs associated with a labor force. But workers love it, too. It offers flexibility and independence. In a recent poll, the ability to telework was the number two criteria for those polled and 33 percent said they would prefer the ability to telework over a 10 percent salary increase.
Teleworking also has another great benefit for workers and managers—productivity. Studies show that teleworking actually improves a person’s productivity when the task is creative or thoughtful. The productivity in repetitive jobs, like data entry, proved to be about the same.
If you are a teleworker, either by choice or design, here are some dos and donts:
1. Create the right space. Sitting on the couch is probably not the best place to work. Make sure you have a dedicated workspace with the right tools for the job. You’ll need a good Internet connection, maybe a landline phone, a place for your files and supplies, a place for your computer. Most important, you want a workspace where you will not be distracted. So if you can carve out a home office where you can close the door and not be distracted by laundry that’s ideal.
2. Get childcare. Working from home is not a substitute for childcare. You need to make sure you can work rather than care for the children.
3. Make and keep a routine. Teleworking is not an excuse to sleep in late. Keep the same office hours as your colleagues.
4. Be available. Again, you have to keep the same hours as your colleagues so stay plugged in and available.
5. Respect your personality. Teleworking may not be a good fit for extroverts, who tend to do best in a social setting. So if you are an extrovert don’t stay home by yourself for days on end. Break up your day and try to punctuate it with visits to the office or social engagements. Find a local library or other open space with good wifi. Break up your solitude.
If you are a manager and have teleworkers, here is some advice for you:
1. Make your company’s policy and expectations clear. Make sure your employees know your policy and be very clear on expectations about due dates, work loads, hours, availability, etc.
2. Give employees the right support. Think it through: what type of work is conducive to teleworking? What will your employees need support-wise to be successful? Give them the proper work, the proper guidance, and the proper support.
3. Manage by results. You’ve got to learn to manage by result, by the quality of the work, and this is very different than managing someone in person, by butt in the seat. Think it through: what is it you need to see results-wise?
4. Know your people, know their strengths and weaknesses. Who will be successful teleworking and what do you need to give them to be successful? Again, this is a very different type of management.
Teleworking is here to stay and growing fast. It really is the new normal. Make it work people!