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Work is something you do, not somewhere you go

by David Moorman, President

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You already know allowing employees to telecommute can help the environment, reduce traffic congestion, increase your talent pool, and even increase employee satisfaction. So with all these benefits, why isn’t it more widely adopted? Common concerns include loss of control over employees, decreased productivity, or security risks. The good news is advances in technology are calming these fears in addition to making working remotely as seamless as working at the office.

Employers Fear Loss of Control
The word telecommuting can strike fear in the hearts of many managers. How will I keep tabs on my people? How will we stay connected? While telecommuting does require a certain amount of trust and a results oriented management approach rather than an observation based management approach, there are ways to monitor employees that work remotely. Many companies use live chat applications that denote idle versus active status allowing them to peek in on employee activity as well as chat in real time. Other companies may use a web portal to access applications needed for work and monitor employee login and log off records. And for the ultra conscious manager, company computers can be equipped with spyware-like agents for monitoring employee activity. Spyware isn’t just a hacker tool you know. And don’t forget about phone records; many voice over IP phone systems provide detailed call reporting so you know if your team is reaching out to prospects or just hitting the snooze alarm. While you may not be able to pop your head over the cube wall anymore, you can still check up on employees with simple monitoring tools.

Decrease in Productivity
Won’t my employees productivity suffer with extra distractions or inability to access work files as easily? You could make the argument that employees that work at home can easily find other things to do besides work, but isn’t it the same scenario at the office? Employees at the office can waste time just as easily between trading gossip at the water cooler, yacking at the photocopier or changing up their fantasy football players for Sunday night’s game.
On the point of access, advanced software as a service (SaaS) delivery methods deliver the same experience no matter where you are or which device you use. Easy access can even mean employees log on after-hours to finish emails after the kids go to bed, actually increasing productivity. Plus employees that telecommute can work during hours that would otherwise be spent in 400 traffic.

Telecommuting Introduces Security Risks

Some make a valid point when it comes to telecommuting introducing security threats. Wireless Internet cafes can breed wild virus and spyware issues, which is why employee education and security policy is a must. Teaching employees about such threats can mitigate risks while providing secure Internet access through personal air cards or Clear technology can close the gap. Creating web based portals and using cloud technology alleviates the risk of data falling into the wrong hands if a laptop is stolen. These technologies allow data to be saved centrally to the datacenter instead of having copies of sensitive data on local machines, making a stolen laptop a few hundred dollar loss instead of a few hundred thousand dollar loss.

Technologies like cloud computing, SaaS, VoIP, and more are giving employees freedom and management peace of mind. Work no longer has to be somewhere you go but something you do no matter where you happen to be. So what are you waiting for? Your fuzzy slippers are calling your name.

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