Having office staff who work from home has several advantages. It allows flexible working and does away with down time while travelling. It means you can grow your business without having to find larger premises. Once you have made an initial investment everything is set up, you will have lower on-going overheads.
How to Manage it
Working from home though, does throw up some management challenges. Can you trust your staff to complete their work each day without supervision? Your HR policies will have to state exactly what is required from home workers and what their responsibilities are.
If money is tight, you may need to phase in the home working, and it will be important that you are seen to be fair and consistent in allocating home working as a privilege that has been earned.
Don’t let weeks or months go by without anyone seeing your home workers. You might have a rule that they come onto the office once a week or fortnight, and perhaps have a meeting with a supervisor or manager about their duties and how the work is progressing. Getting team members together at regular intervals to give public praise for specific achievements, let problems have an airing and work out any support needs, is an excellent idea. If possible, or just when you have something special to celebrate, make it a social occasion as well by including a buffet lunch.
Your Set-up Investment
You need to be able to contact your home workers at any time during the working day, so you should issue smart phones. They could also have calls diverted from their direct line numbers where appropriate, so that their contacts can still use their office line which might appear more professional and business-like.
Laptops are the standard solution for homeworkers, but bearing health and safety in mind, it’s a good idea to provide each person with a connecting keyboard, monitor and mouse. You don’t want your workers to suffer from repetitive strain injury or develop eye problems from working with a small laptop screen all the time.
Your homeworkers must be able to connect to the internet and use the organisation’s intranet, so they will need a broadband connection. For security reasons, you may want to use a virtual private network. This will need professional set-up and maintenance, but it may be the only way to ensure the security of your business.
The other investment you need to make is the one that is often forgotten: training the personnel to be competent with all the technology and to manage their responsibility for security and back-up.