October 19, 2009, 9:53 PM — Many companies make it possible for employees to work remotely, but without a structured telework program in place, they could be putting corporate data at risk and stifling employee productivity.
“If companies don’t have a policy or performance management system in place that could help them monitor their telework program and focus on work output, then it might become chaotic,” says Cindy Auten, general manager for Telework Exchange.
Here are a few of the red flags telework advocates should watch for when their programs seem to be lacking positive results.
1. Lackluster management supportSome people simply don’t buy into telework, regardless of the promised benefits or the potential cost-savings to a company.
“It is rare, but in some cases senior upper management doesn’t like the prospect of employees working remotely and makes it difficult to move a program forward,” says Chuck Wilsker, president and CEO of The Telework Coalition. “There are those managers that believe presence equals productivity, no matter what the arguments for telework are. One word from the right manager can make the program go bust and turn it off immediately like a spigot.”
2. Ineligible job dutiesCompanies may want to offer their employees the perk of working remotely, especially in these tough economic times when cutting fuel costs could help most people. Yet not all positions apply when it comes to working remotely.
“Jobs requiring face-to-face or in-office communications won’t work unless the program is very structured to specific duties on specific days,” Auten explains. “And jobs that deal with sensitive data might be restricted to on-site activities as well, unless the company has well-documented data security policies.”
Also companies that don’t recognize that some employees would be able to work remotely while others could not might experience failure sooner rather than later.
“Any company who thinks that all employees are suitable for teleworking are setting themselves up for failure,” says Ben Rothke, a New York-city based senior security consultant with BT Professional Services.