Telecommutting Productively or Eating Bonbons?

Telecommuting Productively or Eating Bonbons?
How Do You Know?

By Talmar Anderson

When working with clients to define their organizational structure and hire strategically, my clients all want to know how to manage telecommuters efficiently! While we all make sure to hire the right candidate with strong skills and train them on our companies policies and procedures, we must eventually turn them loose to do the job. But then the business owner’s devil on the shoulder wonders, “Am I really getting what I am pay for?  What if they are really eating Bonbons and Doritos while watching a documentary on hoarders?  What if they have kids under their feet when they are billing my company and clients? How do I know that they are doing what they say they are doing?’  Control issues much…? I COMPLETELY understand!

The desire to attract employees and build a company that includes freedom does have to come with a vigorous hiring process and a healthy dose of faith on YOUR part.

  • Faith that your employees want to be productive.
  • Faith that they will always do their professional best.
  • Faith that they will prioritize your business needs equally with their personal needs.

Even the best reference checks and a consistent weekly management meeting schedule can sometimes lose out to that inner voice of doubt that all entrepreneurs’ share. You have two options if this is constantly running around in your head. And yes, this is about managing YOU but will require a strategic decision for your business model.

You can stop offering telecommuting and start creating an office space.  There ARE great benefits to having a collaborative working environment that houses all the employees under the same roof.  Often times, company and staff communications can be stronger. There is also a higher probability of achieving a successful culture that “feels like family”. However, this is counter to the “ideal” some business owners feel driven to offer when flexibility is a part of their core values.

If managing telecommuting employees is a business model you are drawn to, there are a few steps you can take to create consistency, customer service and keep YOUR sanity.

So here are my 3 tips for successfully building and managing your telecommuting staff:

  • Clear roles and expectations –
    • When they will work, how they will communicate, accountability buy in and specifically assigned responsibilities help here.
  • Reward performance instead of hours logged –
    • Consider salaries based on the value of the end results as opposed to how long or how quickly a project takes (This does NOT relieve you from managing and understanding the workload required for delivery of your products and services!)
  • Care less about face time! –
    • Instead of worrying that you did not SEE how the sausage was made exactly, get comfortable with the sausage being delicious, delivered on time AND one less thing that YOU have to do. Consider the value to your business that it is finished well and on time?

The decision to use telecommuting roles in your business model requires you to look into how you not only want to see your company’s daily operations work but also how to build a company that can meet your clients’ needs while reassuring yourself that your employees are on the same mission as you.  Freedom still needs to include satisfying the business owner that everyone is operating at peak performance. Know yourself well enough to know if you will be satisfied paying for the employees to meet your deadlines EVEN if they were eating bonbons. If you have the right team…YOU need to be able to let go.

Now GO! Grow!

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