Is it Practical?
Question: “On home office work, is it practical to allow employees to work from home?”
The Simple Answer
Yes; it can work extremely well. Internet connections are so good these days that, from a technical viewpoint, this is now highly feasible for employees to perform office work at home. And the savings in terms of travel time, and even increased production, can be valuable.
There are some obvious pitfalls, however. How can you be sure that the employee will actually be working, as opposed to drinking coffee with their spouse, or going shopping?
You can never be certain, of course, but here are a few tips that will help you make a more informed decision about who you allow to perform home office work. The key to this is performance.
Performance is Key
In the first place, do not choose employees who do not have a proven record of results in doing their job at the office. If someone is below par in performing under supervision, you run a high risk of even worse performance if you let them work at home.
What do we mean by “performance”? Well, the job in question is supposed to produce something, isn’t it? Otherwise, why do you pay someone to do it? So, what is the “something” they are supposed to produce?
Getting this straight is important. With some jobs (like in sales), this is obvious. For others, it is not so clear cut. Nevertheless, you have to nail this one first. Just ask yourself; “What is it that this job actually produces, which is valuable to the organisation?”
You know you have identified a valid “result” when you can measure it. If you can’t measure it in terms of numbers, you are not there yet.
See Measuring Performance for more detail on this.
Monitor the Results
Now you know what the job is supposed to produce and how to measure it.
- Next, look at the person you are considering for doing their company work from home.
- Have they been producing good results consistently?
- If so, you are reasonably safe in letting them work from home.
Now, monitor their results over the next few weeks, or months (depending on the nature of the job). If their statistical results drop dramatically, you have a problem. But, at least you can now identify that problem.
Review their performance with them and point out that their home office work privileges are contingent upon their maintaining their production. If this does not improve, bring them back into the office.
It is a good idea to give them a checklist of things to be aware of in their home-working environment.
The things they should take note of are the obvious distractions that can occur when they combine their family environment with their work environment: letting the spouse, or friends, or the kids, or the dog, pull them off their job.
Once you make the decision to allow an employee to work from home, you have to trust them to do it honestly. Of course, if you have a good measure of their results, you can still monitor them. And the rewards to you and the organisation can be very good indeed.
I work from home most of the time now, so I am speaking from personal experience here. But I have to leave it here, because my wife wants me pop down the road and buy some milk…