Top 7 Tips for Successful Telework
By Jeff Zbar
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One of the lasting messages of September 11 is how vital remote officing can be to business productivity and continuity. Even before the terrorists struck, more than 28 million people teleworked - or worked from home for a boss somewhere else.
- Is telework right for your business?
Many corporations who are sending their employees home to work find telework is good for business - once they've given it some thought. They've reviewed and selected the right employees and right managers - those capable of working in remote settings or with out-of-sight teams. They've outfitted them with the right tools and technology - including a PC, Internet connection and dedicated business phone. They've ensured home officers are working from appropriately equipped workspaces, with good desks, ergonomic chairs and a quiet office. And they have fostered understanding and acceptance throughout the company.
- Who is your ideal teleworker?
Consider those whose roles fit the ideal telework job description. Workers whose primary tasks are information-related - whether they are making phone calls, working the Internet or managing data on a computer - often can easily transfer those tasks to a home office. Networking and teamwork can be performed via phone or Web-based conferencing.
On the other hand, employees who must work in close concert with peers and whose jobs require intense and close collaboration might perform better in the corporate environment.
- Embrace change
Research has shown that the best teleworker and manager candidates are open to change, are excellent communicators, whether via phone or email, and are team players - but have an inherent entrepreneurial spirit.
That said, even those employees fitting these characteristics might not want to work outside the corporate office. A successful telework initiative must be voluntary. Manager and telework alike should agree to the program and its terms.
- Power up
Successful telework - where corporate employees work from home at least part time - is part worker and part tool. The best telework programs get the company information technology department (or the person who handles the computers) involved early so the remote workers' home offices can mimic as closely as possible the technology in the corporate workspace, including Internet access, laptop or desktop computers and software used by the company.
- Use the phone
Teleworkers need to be connected to be efficient. A dedicated business telephone line and fax line often is all they might need. If the technology is available on the company phone system, calls placed to the employee's corporate phone number should be seamlessly forwarded to the home office line. If the worker is unavailable, the corporate voicemail system or receptionist should answer the calls.
- Furnish home offices wisely
Sending corporate employees home to work doesn't have to be expensive. Setting up the home office can be an exercise in frugal furnishing. Ferret out deals from a variety of sources, such as used-office-furniture stores, office-equipment-leasing companies, local thrift or consignment shops. Check classified ad listings for garage sales, corporate furniture or equipment sales, auctions or bankruptcy liquidations and local office superstores which often have scratch-and-dent specials.
- Plan, revisit and grow
Telework isn't a static endeavor. It should be planned to suit your company and employees' style and to grow with your company's needs. Draft a telework pilot plan, enlist employees to participate, and track their successes and failures. Have a more productive and agile workplace as a result.
Jeff Zbar is a speaker, columnist and journalist and is the author of "Teleworking & Telecommuting: Strategies for Remote Workers and Their Managers" ($14.95, Made E-Z Products, 2002). Available at bookstores nationwide or online at Amazon or here.
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Article Submitted On: October 02, 2002