For many companies the notion of a remote workforce is inconceivable and it is something they would not entertain, regardless of changes in the working world. They have been doing the same thing for many years and see no reason to change. On the flipside there are some companies who may choose to incorporate a remote workforce to complement their standard operations, For example, you may decide that your technical support reps and sales personnel adds costs by driving each day to sit at a desk. And for some of the businesses, who have a rigid policy against employees working from home, will need to have some sort of work from home contingency plan in place when their employees are not able to travel due to bad weather conditions.
Setting a remote workforce has its pros and cons and, like every business model, considerable thought should be given to it before its implementation. Here are three tips to consider, courtesy of an article by Bartie Scott for Inc.com titled “3 Tips for Keeping Flexible Workers Happy and Productive”
- Balance fixed pay with performance incentives
To prevent paying full freight for a flexibly-located or -scheduled employee who winds up as a resource drain, base some pay on productivity benchmarks. Holmstrom’s work implies that it’s best to set aside a portion of an employee’s potential pay for a time when his or her performance can be better evaluated. Good performance is a win-win, and bad performance means that allowance can be put back into the company.
- Measure performance against peers
Besides breeding some healthy competition, comparing performance to peers better accounts for factors beyond your employees’ control and avoids punishing them for broader market downturns. Instead, if workers are given the same resources and training, individuals’ abilities will be revealed over time. High-risk industries that can’t afford employee churn and uncertain costs should provide more fixed compensation. Lower-risk industries can afford to try out offering performance incentives on new employees to reward the best and weed out those who can’t cut it.
- Leave room for uncertainty
Hart’s incomplete-contract theory states that because performance is difficult to predict and unexpected events arise, contracts must lay out a method for decision-making in case of unforeseen circumstances. That’s why it may be pertinent to negotiate with a new hire to revisit bonuses or benefits after some time has passed and the employment arrangement is more predictable.
Here is a quote from Marten Mickos CEO of Eucalyptus Systems in a recent interview “Offices are so last century,” Having everyone in one location “was really an invention of the Industrial Revolution. It’s much more natural for people to work where they live.” He goes on to say, “We have a few employees I have never actually met.” And, when asked how he knows they’re all working, he says “telecommuting can actually boost productivity, it’s much easier to fake it in an office than it is from home, where the only way to seem productive is to actually be productive.”
Bottom-line a remote workforce is not ideal for every company. However, the companies that implement telecommuting, the rules of engagement need to be clear so, both sides understands and adheres to the stated objectives. It’s also worth noting that not every employee is cut out to be a telecommuter. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline-hence, some employees; love the idea of driving to work each day to work at a desk in an office.
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