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Telecommuting Tips: 4 to 7

By David Strom  |  Posted 2008-05-19 Print this article Print

Here's a common-sense approach to the technology that will significantly boost the productivity of those team members who live elsewhere.

4. Talk to each member of your staff at least every other day via phone. 

This is important: You will hear nuances from how they respond to you. These calls don’t have to be long, but you need to originate them and see what your peeps are up to.

5. Pay for broadband Internet service to the home of any telecommuter, regardless of how much time they are actually working from home.

I know some companies prorate this with complex formulas. Don’t bother. The $30 or so a month is way less than it would cost your company for equivalent bandwidth.

6. Have a help desk person specifically assigned for your telecommuters. 

Standardize on a home router and other gear as much as possible. They should have all the contacts for the broadband ISPs and other providers that are involved, too.

7. Use a common IM client for all internal communications.

Skype and AOL instant messaging seem to be the favorites, and I have used them both over the years to great success. If your company doesn’t yet have much of an IM culture, this is going to be a fight. (Some Neanderthal managers may see it as frivolous.) IM is absolutely essential to successful telecommuter management because you can track people down, or know when they are on a phone call or otherwise engaged.

But, first, you need to make sure that you actually use the software to alert your staff of your working “presence.” Skype is nicer for voice and video chatting, although the newer AOL IM clients have some support for these, too. AOL IM is still the preferred app for parents of teens and pre-teens, so look for those folks to teach the others when you begin your deployment.

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