|Telecommuting has become a
prevalent force in today’s business world. Once believed
to cause decreased productivity, telecommuting has
proven to be a practical and effective work option.
Expanding across industries and communities around the
world, employees are choosing to work remotely in
Video communication software such as Zoom and Microsoft
Teams have made it easy for employees to connect. In
fact, these technologies have been a huge driver in
transformation and company collaboration, allowing
employees to connect virtually from anywhere!
So, What is Telecommuting?
term, “telecommuting” was first used by NASA in the early
1970s – long before the idea of working outside the office
ever caught on. Telecommuting is based on the idea that an
employee “commute” through telephone or virtual channels
such as email, phone, video and more. Traditionally,
telecommuting meant you could work from home, a
coffeehouse… anywhere you could find a plug and decent
WiFi. While the term, “telecommuting” is still being used
today, the phrases, “work-from-home” (WFH) and,
“work-from-anywhere” (WFA) have become more popular.
Prior to the pandemic, most companies evaluated
telecommuting eligibility on a case-by-case basis: whether
the employee’s role could easily shift to a virtual
environment, their individual work performance, etc. In
the current state of the world where pandemics are the new
normal and social distancing is necessary, telecommuting
has become more vital than ever.
— a job search platform specializing in flexible and
remote job opportunities – 90% of employees say more
flexible work arrangements would increase morale. But
that is just the beginning. A Flexjobs survey also found
that 80% of remote workers experience less job stress
and 85% of employers offering telecommuting and other
flexible work arrangements report increased
productivity. The statistics of telecommuting and
working remotely are compelling. They give evidence to
how this type of arrangement can benefit both the
company and their employees.
While some positions can easily transition to a remote
model, others which require face-to-face interaction, or
the physical handling of equipment aren’t as easily
adjustable. Telecommuting works best for companies in
industries such as accounting, administrative, customer
service, finance, healthcare, IT and marketing.
To find the best work from home jobs, check out The Top 60
Remote Work Websites for New Opportunities in 2022.
Creating a Telecommuting Policy
To avoid miscommunication and unclear
expectations, strategizing a WFA company policy will set
expectations from the beginning. This will ensure both
employee and employer understand what is needed from
each other. Having a formal policy in place can benefit;
helping manage your employees remotely without causing
delays or missed deadlines.
There aren’t any set rules when creating a telecommuting
policy, but some basic topics should be addressed. Ask
yourself some of the questions below to determine what
will best suit your team’s needs.
- What is the approval or eligibility
process to determine which employees are the best
fit for telecommuting? Are all employees eligible?
Are some teams excluded based on their roles?
These should be clearly defined.
- Will employees work remotely exclusively
or follow a hybrid work model where they are
physically in the office part-time?
- Should employees have a dedicated
workspace in their remote environment? For
example, working from a coffee table on a small
laptop screen might affect productivity for some
employees. More importantly, an employer must
comply with Occupational
Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) health and safety standards, regardless of
where an employee works.
- What is the preferred method of
communication between you and your telecommuting
- What kind of equipment or technical
support will you provide? Is additional equipment
needed, such as a webcam?
Best tips for Managing a Remote Team
that you’ve considered the benefits of telecommuting and
some guidelines for your telecommuting policy, you should
consider how you can efficiently manage your team. Keeping
a few simple tips in mind and investing in the correct
tools and equipment can help your telecommuting policy
Cloud-Based Tools and Services
Having the right tools and services
in place is critical to making telecommuting possible. You
may need to look at how your business operates, manages
projects, and shares documents. For example, replacing the
outdated practice of emailing documents back and forth
with cloud-based sharing software will give multiple
employees access to documents and files online from
multiple devices. No matter where your team is physically
located, everyone can access and edit versions of those
files to stay in sync with each other.
Cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Office
365 feature desktop and web-based versions of their
applications (i.e., Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.) but
additional features were built in with telecommuting in
mind. Storing documents on company network drives or
cloud-based services like Microsoft’s OneDrive
(cloud-based file sharing and storage) make
collaboration and staying in touch easy. Most
cloud-based document applications allow multiple users
to edit content simultaneously, without overwriting each
other – another benefit to working from separate
Is answering phones important to your business? If yes,
consider a voice over IP (VoIP) or soft-phone
(software-based) phone system. This takes your old
PBX-like phone system out of a physical location and
moves it into the cloud – enabling employees to answer
phones from their PCs, anywhere they have an internet
connection. Having this in place prior to COVID-19,
enabled dibroker West to close our office on Wednesday
and start working remotely on Thursday with no
interruption to our phone service.
Consistent and Frequent Communication
Just because you don’t
work face to face in an office, doesn’t mean you can’t
have consistent communication with co-workers. Make sure
to schedule regular touch points with employees
individually and in group settings to discuss projects,
collaborate and keep up to date. It is also helpful to
encourage virtual relationships between remote teammates
who may not work together directly. Video-conferencing via
applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom – offering
instant messaging (chat), file sharing and video
conferencing – which have been game changers to
Be clear about company expectations and set
targets that are focused and understandable. Clear
communication will help minimize confusion and provide a
better understanding of work expectations and assigned
At our main office in
Portland, OR dibroker West has taken remote
communication one step further. We like to invite our
employees to virtual happy hours in order to enjoy some
of the non-work related banter that typically happens
when we’re physically together. While these interactions
may not benefit the organization directly, we feel
they’re crucial for team-building and camaraderie.
Trust between an employer and
employee is always important but is especially vital in
the telecommuting setting. Without trust, employers will
question one’s productivity and performance. Every team
relies on each team member; that they are doing their
part to contribute to their team’s success, guaranteeing
the overall profitability for the company. Developing
two-way trust relationships is essential for the WFH or
hybrid work model to flourish.
Feedback and Successes
Building on the communication
theme, regular feedback and open communication can help
your team stay on track. Feedback and positive criticism
can help your team grow and improve. Don’t forget to
celebrate the ‘wins’ when they happen. Praise and
recognition for a job well done boosts morale, ensuring
future success and job satisfaction for everyone.