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Allowing employees to work flexible hours or work from home is one of today’s most popular perks, benefiting both employees and employers. According to data from the Telework Research Network, a telecommuting resource site, 72 percent of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. “Even half-time telecommuting can save a company $10,000 per employee per year,” says Telework co-founder Kate Lister.
Enabling telecommuting is easier than ever. Most technology you’ll need is available as open source (Google Chat, Google Groups, Skype and a host of others), SAAS (Google Docs), freeware (Dropbox, Doodle, Evernote), or inexpensive Web-based pay-per-use tools (Citrix GoToMeeting). Both Apple and Microsoft have tools that provide remote collaboration, remote monitoring and remote fix options. And with more companies using SAAS solutions, compatibility is less of an issue than it once was.
Communication is crucial to successful telecommuting. Lister recommends your communications tools include both synchronous (telephone, instant chat, texting) and asynchronous (e-mail, message boards, forums) choices. More important than your tools is your attitude. “It’s essential to manage by results rather than presence,” Lister warns. “You have to be of a mindset that if someone gets the job done, who cares when and how they do it?”
If not everyone in your company can work from home, Lister suggests considering alternatives like flextime, job-sharing, compressed workweeks or reduced hours.