Portable IT equipment, the widespread availability of broadband internet and the explosion of cloud-based computing services mean it’s easier than ever to allow working from home in your company. And while homeworking can certainly bring benefits to your business, you should think carefully before introducing it.
Working from home can bring a number of benefits to your business:
There can be disadvantages to working from home too:
One way to get round this is for employees to work from home on a part-time basis. This solution gives staff time in the office for face-to-face catch ups whilst benefitting from the increased motivation and productivity offered by homeworking. This might also reduce the amount of office space you need as employees may be able to deskshare - sometimes referred to as 'hot desking'.
Often, the appropriateness of homeworking depends on the job itself. For instance, while telesales staff, writers and consultants may thrive when working from home, it is impossible for retail staff or factory employees to even consider homeworking.
As well as evaluating the job roles in your company, there are other key factors that will determine how appropriate homeworking is. Notably:
If you offer homeworking to one person in your business, you may set a precedent which others want to follow. You should therefore make sure that working from home fits your company before you offer it to your staff.
Think carefully about how to introduce homeworking. Your employees will probably need access to new equipment to work effectively.
You remain responsible for their computer health and safety no matter where they work, so you will need to supply effective, ergonomic computer hardware. You may also be responsible for supplying office equipment.
Keep an eye on security, especially if your employees require access to sensitive information like your customer database. A virtual private network allows you to create a secure 'tunnel' between a computer in your employee’s home and your company IT systems.
Think about how you will manage people who work from home. It can be tricky to monitor their performance, so agree deadlines and meet face-to-face regularly. Homeworking employees typically need better time management skills than their office-based colleagues, so think about extra training too.
In general, maintaining good communication is key to homeworking success. Technology can help a lot. Use collaboration tools, instant messaging, webcams and the good old telephone to ensure all your employees can stay in touch with the business.
For further, related information, see:
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