In today’s fast moving and high-pressure world of work, it is near impossible to maintain a modicum of balance. For entrepreneurs and employees at startups and SMMEs, working 12-hour days and over weekends is often par for the course.
This leaves little to no time for family members, partners, and relaxing activities outside of work. And as we have seen, the consequences of such a relentless routine can be disastrous: ill health, broken families, burnout, etc.
Fortunately, however, new technology tools and platforms are now giving frazzled workers more options. Armed with smart devices and mobile connectivity, many employees can – in theory – work from anywhere, at anytime.
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Indeed, the concept of telecommuting and working partly from home is being widely embraced by forward-thinking managers and employers – who are increasingly realising that happy staff members are high performing staff members.
As a manager, and also as someone who has relied on working remotely in order to support a family, I believe that telecommuting can be highly beneficial for both the employee and the employer. Provided, of course, that it is done right.
In my view, entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to explore this route can benefit from a few key insights…
Don’t be Afraid of Data
In order to work remotely, employees need the right tools. They should be equipped with a tablet, a smartphone, and mobile data.
For a startup or SMME, it can be hugely demanding and risky to attempt to provide and micro manage the devices and the data.
I have found that it makes more sense to have staff buy their own devices and data (on contract), and hence take ownership of their tools. At month end, employees can forward the invoice to be reimbursed.
Naturally, every employee should be allocated a certain amount of data, and the employer will only be responsible for that amount every month.
This way, employers are protected from bill shocks/abuse – while still empowering employees with the all-important mobile connectivity.
Put Metrics in Place
It is critical to put agreed upon metrics in place upfront. As an employer or employee, good metrics will set you free, so to speak. For example, sales reps should have a specific sales pipeline/targets to meet every month.
For customer service reps, a satisfaction index or survey can be an effective way to monitor and track performance.
This is where cloud-based applications and software can play a major role – and companies should explore all the various options that will enable both employers and employees to have a comprehensive, real-time view of productivity and performance.
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Flexible But Firm
While it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, telecommuting has to be something that is reserved for employees who have demonstrated that they can approach it responsibly and take ownership.
If an employee starts demanding the right to work remotely, particularly if that employee has yet to prove himself, this should set off some alarm bells.
As an employer, you also need to be firm. If a staff member fails to deliver/perform even once, be wary of extending a free rein the next time.