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Employers’ Most Common Telecommuting Mistakes

In a time of rising gas prices and advanced communications technology, an increasing number of companies are turning to telecommuting as an affordable way to maximize talent retention and offer employees a desirable perk. Many companies, however, lack the knowledge to implement a successful remote work and telecommuting program.

Capital Associated Industries Inc. (CAI), the largest employers’ association in North Carolina, spoke to telecommuting expert Brandon Dempsey about the most common mistakes employers make when implementing a telecommuting program and managing virtual employees.

According to Dempsey, companies should know that while they likely can implement a telecommuting program with their current infrastructure, sound policies and procedures are critical to any program’s success.

Below are five of the most common mistakes Dempsey said companies make when they implement a remote work and telecommuting program:

1. They lack concrete policies and procedures. Dempsey recommends that companies take the time to lay down the process of telecommuting at their companies, which can vary greatly. Too often, Dempsey said, companies search for policy samples online. He warned there isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy, and taking this approach could lead to legal implications in the future.

2. They over-invest in technology. Companies shouldn’t rush out to buy the latest technology for their remote work and telecommuting program. Instead, Dempsey encouraged businesses to carefully look at the jobs their virtual employees will perform and to buy the technology that makes sense for those jobs. Companies often can use their existing IT infrastructure without buying any new software or hardware.

3. They fail to train managers. Managing someone from afar requires a different set of management skills, especially concerning communication timing. Dempsey recommends companies train managers who will be overseeing virtual employees to help them learn the techniques they need to effectively manage at a distance.

4. They miss the implementation strategy. Whenever a company embarks on a remote work and telecommuting program, Dempsey suggests they first explore whether this type of initiative fits their business model. Companies should map out their business drivers and define the goals they want to achieve by implementing a virtual work option before implementing a telecommuting program.

5. They overlook a pilot program. Dempsey recommends companies embarking on a telecommuting program first test the initiative. Instead of allowing 100 staff to telecommute, try a pilot program first and deploy 10 or 15 employees. After all the policies and procedures are in place, then consider taking the initiative far and wide.

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