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Allowing employees flexible work options such as telecommuting provides benefits to both employers and staffers. Work-at-home employees are often more focused and productive, and allowing a staffer to work off-site saves an employer on overhead related to office expenses. To be effective, a work-at-home option should include specific requirements, goals and measurement processes.
Establish Work Parameters
Before a staffer begins working at home, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, expectations should be put in writing. Outline the specific work product output expected from the telecommuting employee and measure performance using these guidelines on a regular basis. For example, if a worker is making customer service calls from home, require a log that demonstrates how many calls were made in a given time period. If a telecommuter transcribes medical documents, determine an acceptable number of transcriptions per day or week and ask for status reports to ensure progress is being made.
Monitor Work Progress
Some employers require work-at-home staffers to provide daily updates of what they accomplish. You can require that work product be delivered on a daily or biweekly basis to ensure productivity is on track. You can also opt to build in a clause that gives you the right to make home visits to assess work set-up and processes or to monitor time spent on a computer.
Have telecommuting staffers check in with you on a regular basis. This might mean a weekly conference call, a daily Skype chat or a bimonthly progress report. This approach allows you to stay in contact with employees, troubleshoot issues or problems as they arise and identify potential productivity problems before they get out of hand. It also makes an employee accountable for his or her work product in a tangible way.
Conduct Performance Evaluations
Conduct regular employee reviews with your telecommuting employees just as you do your in-house staffers. Establish goals and measurements and assess productivity to determine whether goals are being met. Make note of missed deadlines, underperformance or unmet objectives and develop plans for changing behaviors in the future. Your work-at-home contract should have a clause that stipulates how poor performance will be handled, such as a termination of the flexible working option.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.
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