Should You Let Employees Work From Home?

The virtual workplace has opened doors never before thought possible for workers and business owners alike by increasing opportunities. Of course, with every office innovation comes its own set of challenges. If you’re thinking of letting your employees work from home, it’s important to first analyze the key areas of feasibility, management and productivity.

Work from home feasibility

Although the vast majority of employees would jump at the chance to work from home, not every position can function in a virtual environment. Assuming that your business already has the capability for employees to remotely access the server, the key to determining feasibility is to analyze the nature of the position itself.

For instance, it’s easier to let employees work from home when their roles involve limited customer and coworker interaction than it is when they work in a call center environment. Obviously, positions that demand in-person customer interactions are virtually impossible to perform remotely.

Questions to ask when determining feasibility include:

  • Can the work be performed from a home office with reasonable accommodation?
  • How can we handle issues that require in-person assistance?
  • Is it within regulation for information to be accessed remotely or removed from the building?
  • What is the business benefit to a virtual office?

Work from home management

When you let employees work from home, the way you’ll manage them is also important to consider. Because it’s more difficult to meet with someone remotely than it is someone you see each day, you may wish to schedule regular times for the employee to check in or provide status updates. Many businesses accomplish this through:

  • Conference calls
  • Emails
  • IM chats
  • Virtual meetings.

Remember, unless you’re dealing with an employee who lives far away, there’s no reason why you can’t set a regular office day for them to work from your office instead of their home.

Work from home productivity

Perhaps the most critical aspect to consider when you let employees work from home is how you’ll measure their productivity. Clearly, you don’t want to enter into a virtual arrangement only to have the person slack off on their duties. On the other hand, you may not want to micromanage an employee you know has a solid work ethic.

To find a happy medium, it’s worth considering exactly how you’ll determine productivity. If your employee already has a quota of some kind, this is a no-brainer. When they don’t, you may wish to discuss a system of deadlines with them. This is also an excellent time to set the expectation of whether you expect them to work during regular business hours or if they have the freedom to work a more fluid schedule.

Carefully evaluating feasibility, management and productivity can help you decide if you can let employees work from home, but it’s only a guide. You can reserve the right to later determine a virtual office isn’t right for your company and pull the plug on the program.