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Tips for Making Telecommuting Successful

I recently interviewed Patty Butler, senior manager of order management and service logistics at Kronos.  Patty's team of non-exempt employees supports the field sales organization by ensuring that their customers' orders are processed accurately and in a timely fashion.  Patty has recently implemented part time telecommuting in her group with great success.  For those of you who'd like to do the same, Patty's experience can help you jumpstart your progress.

Patty's key tips for success:

  • Clearly define how you'll measure success.  Patty focused on feedback from the internal customers, as well as monitoring changes in unplanned absences among her team.
  • Start with a pilot and make it clear to participants that the continuation of the program will be directly linked to measurable outcomes.
  • Establish rules for participation; i.e. employees have to qualify, telecommuting is not an automatic entitlement. As an example, Patty's team members have to have been employees for at least 6 months prior to beginning to telecommute.
  • Implement supporting technologies to make work-at-home work.  In Patty's case, the team relies heavily on instant messaging as well as a Sharepoint site to minimize the amount of paper processing required.
  • Create clear rules around behaviors expected.  Patty's team has established guidelines for how quickly phone calls, email and instant messages need to be addressed.
  • Incorporate some time in the office with the team.  Patty's folks telecommute part time and come into the office several days a week in order to maintain the team dynamics.

Patty's pilot was deemed successful, and as a result telecommuting is now part of their standard practice.  The flexibility offered by the work from home option is allowing the team to provide better service to sales reps in other time zones.  She's found her folks to be even more productive at home, due to the lower level of distractions they experience there.  In addition, they are happier and more engaged - and working hard to prove that telecommuting is an ongoing flexible work option for them.

Listen to my podcast with Patty Butler:

What's your view on telecommuting?  Do you take advantage of this option yourself?

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