Off-site Employees Can Mean Effective Staffing

As businesses try to stay competitive, there is a growing desire among employees to balance their work and personal lives. Working from home is one solution that is possible for many, and it can be effective too.

“No longer can managers tell employees to leave their personal lives at home,” says Grensing-Pophal, the author of Managing Off-site Staff for Small Business. “Today’s managers recognize that what happens at home has a dramatic impact on performance at work – and vice versa.”

Take a cue from employers who are catching on to this trend of letting their employees telecommute; that is, employers are letting employees work from home on occasion or on a regular basis. According to a recent study by WorldatWork, the number of US employees who telecommuted increased from 12.4 million in 2006 to a staggering 17.2 million in 2008; these numbers continue to grow.

So why is there an increasing acceptance and even preference for off-site employees?

“Telework is a growing work option for companies of all sizes and types,” says Grensing-Pophal, and with a number of benefits made available by telecommuting, the growing trend is hardly surprising. Employees who work from home have the flexibility that allows them to balance the demands of their work as well as their personal life. Contrary to strictly working in the office during the standard 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., working from home enables the employees to have a far better control of their time, and thus allows for an increased opportunity to indulge in personal affairs such as family, running errands, or hobbies.

Employees who work from home also find that, among many other benefits, telecommuting eliminates much of the hassle that come with having to go to work. For the majority of employees, there are additional costs to being employed, including transportation, clothing, and food. Telecommuting eliminates much of these costs, and also allows the employee to avoid rush-hour traffic jams.

And as Grensing-Pophal explains, it is not just the employees who are seeing the rewards of telecommuting. Although many managers fear that being unable to visually supervise workers will hamper the overall result, a closer examination reveals that the opposite may be true.

“Nortel, with more than 4,000 telecommuters,” notes Grensing-Pophal, “reports productivity improvements of 24 percent since 1995 – with an associated 10 percent increase in job satisfaction and reduced turnover risk of 24 percent.”

In addition to increased productivity, lifting the restrictions of working from home can also be cost-effective, with the potential to eliminate thousands of dollars on real estate expenses. It also grants access to a broader talent pool. To employ workers who do not have to come in for work means that geographical barriers are removed; employers are by no means limited to potential employees who are nearby, and are free to seek better qualified workers elsewhere.

When looking for new off-site employees, keep in mind that you are not limited to traditional recruiting channels such as newspapers or journals. Take advantage of the many online and offline job recruitment platforms, and be active! Regularly upload the job posting, and be specific about what the job entails to filter out unwanted or unqualified applicants. When it comes to interviewing the applicants, you may want to conduct your first interview via email or phone. “After all, if this is the means by which you will most frequently communicate with your telecommuting employee, doesn’t it make sense to get a good idea of their skills in this medium up front?”

Although successfully recruiting and hiring off-site employees takes time and effort, effectively incorporating management of off-site staff into your business can provide opportunities for business growth. Telecommuting is no longer a mere conception; it is fast becoming a reality for many businesses.

About managing-off-site-staff-largeFor more tips on keeping employees happy and productive, see Managing Off-site Staff for Small Business by author and human resources expert Lin Grensing-Pophal.

The book is available in our Web store, where you can preview the initial chapters and read the table of contents.

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