Work­ing from home is a perk

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Jobs -

Work­ing re­motely is not a perk, it’s a pol­icy — one that can be changed or elim­i­nated as needed. A few years ago, telecom­mut­ing was con­sid­ered a perk and peo­ple were will­ing to make sac­ri­fices for the op­por­tu­nity to work from home.

To­day, while work­ers still ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity, it’s a com­mon one and it can mean keep­ing team mem­bers happy and pro­duc­tive.

Al­lud­ing to your re­mote em­ploy­ees as priv­i­leged or jok­ing about them sit­ting at home eat­ing ice cream in their pa­ja­mas is not smart and it cre­ates an un­healthy at­mos­phere that en­cour­ages peo­ple at the of­fice to pile on the re­mote work­ers as well.

It only ben­e­fits em­ploy­ees

If your team is man­aged cor­rectly it will ben­e­fit you in many ways, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cially.

Here are a few of the em­ployer ad­van­tages:

■ Re­duc­tion in ab­sen­teeism.

■ Ex­pan­sion of your tal­ent pool from lo­cal to un­lim­ited.

■ In­crease in productivity (de­spite pop­u­lar be­lief ).

■ De­crease in of­fice con­flicts, gos­sip and per­son­al­ity clashes.

■ Shrink­ing costs for fur­ni­ture, phone, con­nec­tiv­ity and other of­fice ne­ces­si­ties.

Re­mote work­ers can be paid less be­cause they don’t have com­mut­ing costs

Salaries are de­ter­mined by re­spon­si­bil­ity, skill level and ex­pe­ri­ence, not con­ve­nience. Pay your em­ploy­ees a fair wage, and re­mem­ber that your work-from-home pol­icy saves you money in other ways.

Hir­ing out-of-state em­ploy­ees re­quires no ex­tra ef­fort or at­ten­tion

Entrepreneurs are of­ten taken by sur­prise when they learn about the laws and regulations on com­pli­ance and li­cens­ing. You may need a per­mit or li­cense for your re­mote work­ers, for in­stance, and there are tax nexus con­sid­er­a­tions.

Do some re­search on the rules in your state.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to build a strong cul­ture out­side an of­fice en­vi­ron­ment

Your cul­ture is what you make it, with or with­out the phys­i­cal pres­ence of em­ploy­ees. Es­tab­lish your com­pany val­ues, vi­sion and poli­cies and com­mu­ni­cate them clearly and of­ten.

Con­sider the fol­low­ing:

■ How your team talks to cus­tomers and shows up as a brand.

■ How your team com­mu­ni­cates with one an­other. Slack is a great way to stay con­nected, as is Skype. It’s im­por­tant to draw bound­aries though; des­ig­nate times for com­mu­ni­ca­tion so that ev­ery­one has un­in­ter­rupted work time.

■ Hold­ing weekly meet­ings, even brief daily meet­ings, to keep ev­ery­one in­formed.

■ De­vel­op­ing recog­ni­tion and re­ward sys­tems and us­ing a pub­lic fo­rum like Zoom to talk about achieve­ments.

Productivity and com­mit­ment are an is­sue

If you know how to in­ter­view, se­lect and train your em­ploy­ees prop­erly, productivity is not likely to be an is­sue.

Many of my clients have re­mote teams and their loyalty, sense of own­er­ship and dis­ci­pline are ex­cep­tional. A study pub­lished in Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view found that, while not ev­ery­one is cut out to work from home, may of those who do are even more pro­duc­tive than their of­fice coun­ter­parts.

Em­ploy­ers don’t need to help with costs

Opin­ions vary on this one. In my opin­ion, the em­ployer should of­fer com­pen­sa­tion for equip­ment and other ex­penses.

Entrepreneurs some­times be­lieve that, be­cause their em­ploy­ees need com­put­ers any­way, the ex­pense should fall on their shoul­ders. An ad­di­tional eight hours (or more) of use cre­ates wear on their per­sonal equip­ment and lessens its life­time. It’s also wise to sep­a­rate work from per­sonal, so em­ploy­ees ap­pre­ci­ate hav­ing mul­ti­ple de­vices.

Your em­ploy­ees may need to up­grade in­ter­net ser­vices and use soft­ware they nor­mally wouldn’t pur­chase. Con­sider these ex­penses and of­fer an al­lowance ev­ery year or two.

Perks are not nec­es­sary

Of­fice work­ers of­ten re­ceive perks such as free cof­fee, the oc­ca­sional lunch and hol­i­day par­ties, to name a few. Your vir­tual team should be shown sim­i­lar acts of ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Here are a few ideas:

■ Pay for a ba­sic co-work­ing space mem­ber­ship so re­mote work­ers can es­cape home now and then.

■ Send the oc­ca­sional treat, such as cof­fee or chain restau­rant gift cards and movie tick­ets.

■ Send a hand­writ­ten note of ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

■ Re­ward some­one who goes above and be­yond by giv­ing him or her a day off.

Out of sight, out of mind is a be­lief that is 100 per­cent in­ef­fec­tive and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive when it comes to your vir­tual team.

Marla Tabaka is a small-busi­ness adviser.

Many of my clients have re­mote teams and their loyalty, sense of own­er­ship and dis­ci­pline are ex­cep­tional. A study pub­lished in Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view found that, while not ev­ery­one is cut out to work from home, may of those who do are even more pro­duc­tive than their of­fice coun­ter­parts.

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