Telework means using telecommunications and computers to let employees do their work in novel locations, such as new remote offices or their own homes.
Here are the main considerations in deciding to establish additional office work locations:
1. Be on the lookout for business problems which telework helps solve.
Difficulty filling jobs because appropriate workers do not live close to the office.
Employees who would be happier working closer to their homes.
Need for headquarters expansion or relocation.
Location- or facility-related operational problems.
2. Consider all of the telework location options:
In additional company facilities.
In employees' own homes.
In special work centers for employees from several organizations -- "telework centers."
3. Take a comprehensive approach to telework.
Recognize that installing secure and reliable computer networking technology is critical, but only one piece of the telework solution.
New processes and procedures will be necessary also.
Involve business planning, personnel management, facilities planning, and operations management.
Don't count on telework as an easy "off-the-shelf" purchase.
4. Encourage employees to submit proposals for new worksite locations.
Let individual employees propose working at home (telecommuting).
See if any managers propose relocating their work groups.
Evaluate these proposals for energy and ideas to drive improvement.
5. Look for opportunities to improve customer focus.
Survey customer attitudes that reflect company locations.
Consider advantages of a second company location closer to the airport, a business center, an important customer, or a cluster of customers.
Examine if a second location would provide better facilities for meeting customers.
6. Seek retention and recruitment improvements.
Survey employee attitudes toward present and potential locations.
Map out where employees live to see a better location for certain offices.
Respond to individual employee needs by offering work-at- home opportunities.
7. Evaluate the facility cost reductions from split operations.
Back office operations -- functions not requiring customer contact in the office -- can be placed in lower cost space.
Mobile personnel who meet customers in the field instead of at the office can be placed in lower cost space.
8. Find potential operational improvements from telework.
Moving a work group out of headquarters may support more creativity and single-minded focus.
Logistical factors -- moving people or materials in and out -- may be eased for some work groups in a new site.
9. Use telework for additional flexibility to handle change.
Work sites for temporary task forces, special projects, and seasonal hires.
Multiply flexibility by using portable office equipment and modular furniture.
10. Check out the many telecommunications options for linking worksites.
Define what you want in functionality and keep looking until you find it; technology is improving and costs are dropping.
Seek long term relationships with sources of expert technical support.
Extend the voice telephone system to operate at remote locations the same as it does in the office, or even better.
Establish teleworker access to software tools and file sharing via secure connections to the in-office network or a private cloud service.
Consider online conferencing with screen sharing and tools for real-time meetings, document editing, and other collaboration across dispersed locations.
11. Address the teamwork and company culture issues arising from dispersed work sites.
Make extra effort to maintain company teamwork and culture when employees formerly working together start to work apart.
Schedule additional inter-facility meetings and social gatherings as telework replaces some of the daily face-to-face interaction.
12. Move forward on telework only on finding a "killer" advantage.
Telework is complex and risky enough to be justified only when the advantages are projected to be very important and near certain.
Start on the easy parts.
Try telework confidently, but leave room for modifications as experience builds.
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For further information on telework, call Global Telematics in Seattle, 1-206-781-4475 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.