Telecommuting: Good or Bad?
Written by Angie Mansfield
Internet corporation Yahoo! made headlines early this year when it decided to end the company's telecommute positions and recall its workers back to the office.
The question on many business owners' minds was: Should I forget about letting my employees telecommute, too?
Whether or not to let your sales staff work remotely will depend on the type of business you have and how much trust you can place in your workers.
Benefits of Telecommuting
Allowing your sales team to work remotely may bring you -- and them -- several benefits.
First, most of your employees will be happier and better able to balance work and home life. This may help you reduce your employee turnover, which tends to be high in many sales jobs.
Second, you may find that your team is more productive when they're allowed to work remotely or from home.
They may feel that you've placed your trust in them, which motivates them to be more productive; or it could simply be a byproduct of fewer office interruptions during the workday.
You may also be able to save a lot of overhead by allowing your staff to telecommute at least a few days a week.
You'll spend less on energy, and may be able to use a smaller office because your workers can share workstations on alternate days.
There are some potential pitfalls when allowing your workers to telecommute.
There will, of course, be a few who will take advantage of the situation and reduce productivity, but those are usually easy to identify and weed out.
More common disadvantages include >>>
- A lack of contact between employees, which may inhibit collaboration and creativity;
- The need for a dependable method of time tracking;
- A reduced ability of managers to connect with employees, which may lead to problems becoming bigger because they're not caught right away.
Making the Decision
Whether or not telecommuting will work for your company depends on your management style, your employees, and the nature of your business.
Companies that rely on outside sales are a natural fit for telecommuting, since the sales team is often on the road visiting clients anyway. But for those whose sales staff doesn't travel, the choice may be a little trickier.
You'll need to make an honest assessment of your management style and your staff to determine whether your team will be successful working remotely. Team members who are responsible and consistently bring results should be the first ones allowed to try out a tele-commute arrangement.
Before starting a remote work program, come up with a plan for tracking productivity. This helps reduce your worries about what your workers are doing, and helps set clear goals for them to ensure their success.
Letting your sales staff work remotely can have a significant effect -- either positive or negative -- on your bottom line.
Having a solid plan in place and setting clear rules and goals will make everyone happier and more successful.
About the Author
Angie Mansfield is a freelance writer whose work covers topics of interest to both consumers and small business owners, including billfloat.