Across industries and geographies, companies continue to adopt “Work from Home” programs, giving employees increased flexibility and bolstering work/life balance. Recent government data reports 10 percent of American workers spend at least one day a week clocking in from home. The demand for flexibility is high and according to a survey conducted by Kona/SodaHead.com, 70 percent of workers want to work from home, and that number jumps up to 81 percent for workers age 35 to 44.
Fortunately, for employers that want to satisfy employee requests, advances in technology, specifically cloud-based infrastructure and applications, are making Work from Home programs more feasible and more prevalent.
When done right, “Work from Home” programs are actually a win for everyone. Expect a bump in employees’ morale, who instantly reduce commuting time and costs, gain increased shift flexibility and increased productivity, while employers will value the decrease in operational costs. While there is a desire to work from home among employees, and benefits across the board, many employers may hesitate to implement a “Work from Home” program because they are concerned that increased flexibility won’t actually improve productivity. To ensure efficiency and success consider these tips:
Demand Physical Environment Best Practices: Teleworkers should adhere to a basic set of guidelines to make certain that their home work environment is conducive to getting work done. It is critical for the work area to be separate from the rest of the home, ideally located in a separate room with a door. The work space should have both suitable lighting and furniture. Additionally, company-owned equipment must be secure from unauthorized access and limited to only employee usage.
Determine Legal and Financial Policies: It is important to be proactive in clearly communicating new work from home policies to employees to avoid “gotchas” and angst down the road. Have the legal department weigh in on compensation considerations and formal approval of the work area, if needed. Set clear policies on the use of personal equipment as well as reimbursable items, such as supplies, internet and phone. Once policies are set; document by creating a formal Program Guide.
Implement a Solid Technology Solution: While specific technology requirements will vary for each organization industry to industry and even from department to department within a single organization, broadly speaking employees will need access to communication solutions (phone, email and messaging), business applications and technical support. Consider cloud-based technology deployments to deliver computing outside the four corporate walls. Any cloud-based solution, whether it is telephony, email or a business application, boasts the same primary benefits. The cloud enables a lower total cost of ownership, predictable monthly costs, increased uptime, enhanced business continuity and more.
Pilot, Evaluate, Adjust and Deploy: Despite best intentions and following best practices, a work from home program might need a little polish before its ready for mainstream use. Consider launching a work from home program among a select group of employees and set regularly scheduled evaluations to determine if the pilot group can be productive. Actively solicit feedback from employees, support teams and supervisors. While adjustments to program policies might be necessary, it is important to update the program guide and remain transparent with all employees.
Work from Home programs are gaining momentum and are advantageous to both employees and employers. Data showing wide proliferation of mobile devices and increase spend on cloud computing reinforces that technology is available to support the IT requirements of work from home employees—though technology is just one of a few requirements necessary to ensure program success.
Scott Kinka serves as Chief Technology Officer for Evolve IP, leading its product design, development, and go-to-market strategies. With a keen sense of not only what the market is asking for, but what the market needs, Mr. Kinka has led his team to develop cloud-based technology solutions that have been well received in the market, won various awards for innovation, and reduced their customers’ total cost of ownership.
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