You're ready to expand your small business or home business — but not ready to have an employee by your side eight hours per day. Or maybe an employee has a long commute and wants to work from home. Thanks to high-speed Internet and a variety of tools, your virtual office can be just as efficient as a traditional one. Using telecommuters helps you:
- Find the best employees; after all, you're no longer constrained to your local area.
- Improve your employees' work-life balance and help them save time and gas money.
- Reduce absenteeism.
- Save money on office space and utilities
Find teleworkersIf you don't already have employees looking to work from home, surf the Web to find people in your industry who want to telecommute.
Set them upYou may find that your teleworkers are more efficient if you set them up with office furniture, computers, high-speed Internet and other office essentials.
Encourage collaboration between far-flung workersWhile email and instant messaging make it possible for virtual workers to cooperate on projects, they don't go far enough. Holding consistent conference calls and sharing schedules online will bring you closer together.
Create an IntranetAn Intranet is a private network for your organization. It can include email links for employees, discussion forums and other solutions (like a shared calendar, above) to help your teleworkers communicate and collaborate with one another.
Tune in from anywhereIf you and your employees can work from different locations, you need to be able to access all your data no matter where you're located.
Play by the rulesThere's a fine line between having an employee (in which case you pay taxes) and having an independent contractor (in which case you don't). Make sure you know how your teleworkers qualify.
IRS site for details on the differences between employees and independent contractors.
- Telecommuting works best for people who work well without a boss looking over their shoulders. Make sure anyone you hire as a teleworker has proven to be self-motivated.
- Security of your business data can be a concern when employees work from computers at home. Have everyone use firewalls, virus protection and other security measures.
- Have your telecommuters come into the office occasionally; face time with other employees helps your teleworkers feel less isolated and more "in the loop."