You are faced with a management dilemma. Your staff have requested they be allowed to work from home. While you recognize the benefits of working from home, you are not sure how to propose it to your senior management. You are concerned that your Director or Vice President may not readily embrace this concept, and think that while people may say they are working from home, they are really just goofing off. Of course, the company does not want to knowingly pay people to goof off. The key to getting your senior management to approve telecommuting is to recognize and address their concerns.
You can do this with the help of your staff. Think about the questions you will need to answer, and get your staff involved in doing the research and putting together the presentation. At a minimum, their research should include the following seven points:
- Does the organization have a telecommuting policy? Check with your Human Resources department to see if a policy exists. The policy will outline who is eligible to work from home, and how things like call forwarding, remote access, and reimbursement for internet usage are handled.
- Which team members are eligible, or want, to telecommute? This may surprise you but some staff prefer to come to the office every day.
- Create a schedule. Let your staff come to a consensus about who will work from home on what days. Working from home can be limited to 1 or 2 days per week to start.
- Designate one day for all hands to be on deck. This is the day when the whole team will be in the office, which allows for in-person interactions and team meetings.
- Specify how the team will communicate. What tools will the team will use to communicate with each other, and you as their manager. Using an instant messenger tool can help everyone stay connected. Using a shared drive gives the team access to share/work on documents.
- What is the team's service level agreement (SLA) for productivity? How will productivity be measured and the staff held accountable? This should include the turnaround/response time for emails, requests and phone calls. How will the team provide service to your clients?
- Propose a trial period of 60-90 days. Assure your senior management that you will evaluate each individual's performance, and the team's effectiveness, throughout the trial period. Communicate to senior management and the team that if individuals, or the team, do not perform successfully during the trial period, you will pull the plug on working from home.