Is telecommuting here to stay? 

As organizations begin to develop strategies to reopen physical workplaces, many are wondering if there is value in retaining a permanent telecommuting arrangement for employees.  To help answer this crucial question, we encourage organizations to consider how they will address the following ten areas.

  1. Manager effectiveness and access to training is critical when moving to a remote workforce.  Managers struggling to lead in-person teams will struggle even more when remote.  Leading remote teams requires a different skill set and organizations will need to offer additional leadership training specific to managing remote teams.
  2. Assessing overall executive comfort and trust in telecommuting is critical during program formulation and early days.  Frequent, ongoing conversations based on data will help convey the effectiveness of telecommuting as well as highlight the area of opportunity. 
  3. Policies and procedures for remote working need to be clearly stated and uniform across all team members within a designated workgroup.  Remote working should not be used as a ‘reward’ but as a benefit available to all employees.
  4. Enhancing two-way communication methods from all levels helps ensure telecommuting employees remain as engaged and connected as those physically onsite. 
  5. Regulatory compliance, such as creating HIPPA-compliant home offices, will need to be considered and clearly detailed when determining eligibility for remote working. 
  6. Adapting critical team member ‘moments that matter’ to fit telecommuting will ensure smooth recruitment, onboarding, recognition, promotion, and performance management strategies.  For example, many organizations have success taking a blended approach to key milestones, such as onboarding, by conducting both in-person activities with virtual ones.
  7. Career development and personal growth strategies may need to be adapted to ensure equal opportunities for stretch assignments, leadership interaction and recognition, regardless of physical work location.
  8. Ongoing, frequent employee listening posts will be critical during the early stages of telecommuting to ensure organizations can quickly address areas of concern.  Establishing a telecommuting task force helps ensure ongoing accountability to employee feedback and organizational needs.    
  9. If an organization ultimately decides to forgo continuing telecommuting arrangements once restrictions are lifted, how this will be communicated to employees is essential to mitigate potential adverse impacts to retention and morale.
  10. Determining the quantifiable impact of telecommuting will ultimately help answer the question of whether a permanent telecommuting solution is right for your organization.  Creating an ongoing evaluation plan, incorporating the common KPI’s included in the company’s overall balanced scorecard, is a good starting place. 

Ultimately, no one size fits all when it comes to telecommuting.  Every organization is unique and should consider a variety of factors when deciding if this is the right path, including understanding the needs of each of their employees and the best ways to drive optimal performance. 

At Spring, we help organizations assess leadership, measure engagement, establish listening posts and determine the right KPIs to measure your business performance. Contact us for a free consulting session via [email protected]