After you put your first corporate telework program in place, you’ll find that the actions and inactions of management, workers staying in the office, and the teleworkers themselves all have an impact on the success of the program. Managing these stakeholders and the politics they bring into play is integral to the success of teleworking in your organization.
Your organization needs to understand that is just not the teleworker who can wreck a telework program. Management, executive sponsorship and fellow workers can also do damage to your program. Here are the primary ways an organization can wreck its telework program:
- It forgets about communicating and documenting expectations. Management, teleworkers and in-office staff are all going to have their expectations about how the telework program should and should not work. This is no time for “delegate and desert” management or mind reading. The communication and documentation of expectations is why I am such a fan of corporate telework plans.
- It won’t alter business processes (if needed). Using teleworkers on a project team for the first time may require some alterations of existing business processes. Project managers, teleworkers, and other staff may need to work together to analyze and adapt to the impact that teleworking may have over their day-to-day team workflow and processes.
- It fumbles expense reports. Teleworkers fudging their expense reports; management and accounting belaboring expense reports; and a corporate telework pilot plan ambiguous about what home office/business expenses the company will reimburse are all certain to contribute to the sinking of your corporate telework program. Put the right accounting and program controls in place up front so finances aren’t even a slight worry for teleworkers and their management.
- It isn’t accessible. While it is easy to point to the teleworker always having to be accessible, the same rules need to apply to management and office-based staff. As more communications get lost in email inboxes and voice mail, there is a greater impact on productivity which could give rise to the end of the program. If email and phone call dodging is part of your corporate culture then you can expect these problems to contribute to the downfall of your telework program.
- It forgets the business value of teleworking. After digging myself out from the recent record snowfall that hit my area, I came across many stories of businesses with telework programs where the home office workers didn’t have to work if their employer’s office was closed due to the weather. These businesses didn’t take didn’t take advantage of a natural event where formal and informal teleworking had the chance to really shine. The U.S. federal government and a number of non-profit organizations and companies shut down for more than a week where even a case-by-case teleworking plan could have meant that at least some business could have taken place, despite the record snowfall left by back-to-back storms. On top of any organization’s list of advantages for teleworking should be business continuity and to forget that is selling a telework program short.
What tools and processes is your organization putting in place to ensure the success of your teleworking program? Share your advice below.
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