Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Telecommuting Becomes Intriguing

This article is published in the Daily Herald. It covers many issues potential telecommuters will encounter. Quick read yet informative.

Your Sucess Is Our Success.
Toni Grundstrom

Commute times, costs make telecommuting intriguing
By Jim Kendall Columnist

Published: 9/17/2007 6:01 AM

Increasingly long drive times, gasoline that hangs stubbornly around $3.00 a gallon, and a mass transit system that never was designed for suburban businesses and their employees make telecommuting an intriguing idea.

Yet relatively few businesses seem to have bought into the concept - which means, if you're interested, you'll likely have to carve your own way. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
The little experience that's available indicates that telecommuting may work best on a part-time basis, at least in the beginning.

"Especially at a small company," explains Karen Codere, "employees wear a number of hats. They may need to be available" in person. As a result, Codere continues, employees who do work from home "still usually have at-office time."

That's the case at Schaumburg's IntelliSuite Technologies, Inc., an IT consulting firm. "Some things can't be done off site," says Erin Teegan. "I can access the computer and get company files from home as if I were sitting at my (office) PC; but I also get the mail, so I have to come in at least two times a week."

Teegan is office coordinator at the 20-employee company. Four of IntelliSuite's employees work permanently off site, at branch offices in Michigan and Kentucky. That's more remote office than telecommuting, though the issues are similar.

Teegan says IntelliSuite has allowed telecommuting on an as needed basis so employees can "work around life commitments" since the company was born in 1998. "That's worked for us."
Still, she acknowledges, "Not everyone can work independently. It takes the right set of guidelines and the right personalities" for telecommuting to work.

Recordkeeping matters as well. What's needed, Teegan says, is a way to document time and work. "We know (technically) how telecommuting works, but we need a written set of guidelines."

Teegan has turned to Administaff for help.
"You have to look at the nature of the job," says Codere, a senior human resources specialist at Administaff's Rosemont office. Administaff is a Houston company that provides payroll and other HR-related support to smaller businesses. In addition to Rosemont, Administaff has a Loop office here.

"Obviously, a line job in manufacturing isn't suited to telecommuting. And sometimes (employees) simply have to interact with other people" which, Codere adds, perhaps can be done by phone or e-mail.

Key, Codere says, is "a really good performance management system." Among the pros and cons she says should be considered are company processes; whether there is sufficient IT support to allow off-site work; whether the company culture can adapt to a telecommuting lifestyle; whether employees are suited to the process; and the company's ability to help employees set up a home office.

Codere adds one more item to her list of telecommuting considerations: Disaster recovery. You're likely to be up and running again faster if provisions for at least temporary telecommuting are part of your disaster comeback planning.

E-mail questions, comments to Jim Kendall, JKendall@121MarketingResources.com.

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