No matter where an employee is operating from, they are still representing the company, so your policy must outline basic performance expectations. It will do you no favours if important calls to customers are interrupted by screaming kids or pets jumping all over their owner. Gill Green is business development director of DMO a company that develops new business opportunities for a range of clients in the marketing, pharmaceutical and telecom fields. The firm favours part time female employees, many of whom are mothers who took career breaks from high flying sales positions. “We insist that children are with childcare while mum is at work,” she says. “When our people call they are representing our clients.” Steve McPherson of BT says a policy protects both the company and the employee. “Many organisations start on an ad hoc basis and often it’s unsupported with the employee working from home despite the organisation. If there are technical support problems you could be bottom of the list, or find you have to bring your laptop into the office.” Although you can bring in a human resources consultant to help draw up your policy, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Your policy will have to fit the business and its people and for that reason it is important to involve employees as early as possible to get input on what will work for you. It’s also important to keep them informed as some may be alarmed to see a move to remote working and consider it a precursor to wider outsourcing. New markets For some businesses, teleworking is opening up new markets for outsourced services. Fresh Minds is a research company that uses undergraduate and post-graduate students to undertake work for its clients. It controls a panel of 2,000 from its 12-stong office in Russell Square, London. Project manager Nick Coates says teleworking suits its employees, who enjoy the flexibility of earning while still studying, and gives clients access a more cost effective, and quicker method of researching, as well as access to a broader range of skills.
Most businesses won’t want to go this far and will instead use teleworking in conjunction with existing practices. If you can make it work, it’s not necessarily a case of out of sight, out of mind, but rather a flexible alternative to what many see as the tedium of 9-5. But it doesn’t only benefit your workforce, it’s for the good of the company.