to preventing an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation.” To maximize productivity and credibility, he advises clients to set clear, definable and measurable goals for the employee. This diminishes any misunderstandings or mistrust associated with the employee working at home.
Bell suggests having a designated work area at home and maintaining a daily ritual to keep focused on work. “Every day I get up and dress, albeit casually, as if actually going to the office. It puts me in a business frame of mind.” Some companies, such as Merrill Lynch and Hilton hotels, have specific training programs or detailed policies and procedures regarding flexible work options.
Merrill Lynch has a two-week training program for telecommuters in which employees work in a simulated home-office environment. There, they interact as if actually working from home, providing opportunities for the company and employees to work out any kinks in the arrangement. The company also requires each telecommuter to provide photographic proof or a layout of a designated work space in their home.
Creating the ideal home work space with the requisite personal computer, fax machine, etc., is also important. Many companies provide computer equipment to the telecommuter in order to assure hardware and software compatibility with the main office. Merrill Lynch spends approximately $7,000 per telecommuter for equipment — in addition to a computer and fax machine, telecommuters get a printer, two phone ports and software — and two weeks of training. ICTV provided Bell with equipment but didn’t spring for special training.
As technology continues to advance and as more employers seek to meet their employees’ changing needs, telecommuting will continue to grow as an option for workers and could be right for you.
The cost of Telecommuting
For a basic home office, Young estimates the up-front costs as follows:
Laptop computer: $2,000
Fax machine: $250