A remote telework agreement – or a telecommuting policy – can have a large impact on employees’ productivity, engagement, and more.
Let’s look at a few must-have ingredients for any organization that wants to implement a telework program.
A solid understanding of the pros and cons of teleworking
The very first must-have component for any teleworking program is an understanding of its pros and cons.
Remote working certainly has its share of benefits, but it is certainly not a cure-all that has no downsides.
It is best to understand both sides of the coin, so businesses can be better counter the negatives when they do implement a telecommuting program.
The benefits of teleworking include:
- Improved employee productivity
- Happier workers
- Smoother, more streamlined workplaces
- A more digitally literate and skilled workforce
- Lower costs
However, earning these benefits requires the right strategy – one that accounts for and mitigates the downsides of teleworking.
Those downsides include:
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Difficulty becoming motivated
- Distractions at home
- Difficulty collaborating with coworkers
Despite these downsides, many remote workers love teleworking and would love to continue working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
A telecommuting policy
A telecommuting policy defines the teleworking agreement made between employees and the organization.
Among other things, it should include guidelines that cover:
- Expectations around the quality and quantity of work
- Procedures and protocols around collaboration and communication
- Which technology to use
- Requirements around digital training and telecommuting training
- Which party will cover which costs
Any items or processes that will affect employees, in short, should be included in the policy.
This will act as a reference document and a contractual agreement that will, among other things, help the virtual workplace run more smoothly.
Employees who are ready, able, and willing to work remotely
Not everyone wants to – or has the ability to – work remotely.
Certain job functions, for instance, simply cannot be performed online. Warehouse workers or retail workers, for example, can obviously not telework.
However, there are other barriers that can hinder telecommuting efforts, such as a lack of digital skills or a preference to work on-site.
Employees may have a variety of attitudes towards teleworking, which range from enthusiasm to dread. For example, some may be afraid of the social isolation.
Yet the right change management and communication plan can help win over employees and improve their ability to work remotely.
To achieve this end, change management strategies should focus on:
Incidentally, these three steps are important components of any change management model.
After all, employees who are unwilling and unable to change certainly will not be able to productively support an organizational change effort.
A telecommuting strategy
The strategy itself should:
- Be goal-oriented and data-driven. One good area to target and measure is performance. Employee performance, for instance, should either remain the same or improve. Another good goal is cost savings – since businesses no longer need to rent office space, they should be saving thousands of dollars per year per employee.
- Minimize the barriers that can obstruct teleworking efforts. Barriers to effective teleworking, as discussed elsewhere in this article, can include a lack of digital skills, improper mindsets, fear, and so on. Employee surveys and workplace assessments can provide more insights into potential barriers that could decrease teleworkers’ performance.
- Maximize the positive outcomes of a teleworking arrangement. Another stated aim of a teleworking program should be to maximize its ROI. Each organization should assess its own workforce, their digital literacy levels, the organization’s digital maturity, and how teleworking could impact the business. This information can be used to develop solutions – whether they are technological, cultural, or something else – that complement and enhance the entire teleworking effort.
Ideally, the virtual workforce will operate as smoothly and effectively as the on-site workforce.
However, if business leaders and managers don’t approach teleworking as a strategic business investment, then they will likely create unnecessary problems – and leave potential profits on the table.
A digital adoption strategy
Digital adoption refers to the adoption of new tools and technology within the workplace.
But it expands its scope to include far more than just software implementation.
Digital adoption strategies focuses on:
- Fully utilizing technology for its intended purpose
- Maximizing software usage and ROI
- Fueling a digital workplace that is literate, mature, and effective
- The total product adoption process, including user onboarding and training
In short, digital adoption is the business function dedicated to the total, seamless integration of new technologies within today’s evolving digital workplace.
Digital adoption may mean change for many businesses – yet when organizations assess the modern economy, they will quickly realize the necessity of large-scale strategies that focus on full adoption.
Such digital-first strategies can be extremely beneficial for teleworking programs, especially when using the right digital training software, such as digital adoption platforms.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.