Is it time to transition into being a telecommute office? Today, more and more businesses, both large and small, are allowing their staff to work off-site. In fact, between 2005 and 2013, the number of large companies who permitted telecommuting had already doubled and the trend is still growing today. Downsizing brings many benefits: You can cut down on expenses while granting your employees more freedom, autonomy and trust.
But how do you know when it’s time to make the transition? Here are some factors to consider before you make that decision.
Save Money and Increase Collaboration
Downsizing to a smaller office space can be a great way to save money and improve collaboration among your employees, including those who telecommute. You don’t necessarily have to stop having an office site completely, if you have room in your budget for one. Just figure out who is absolutely critical to have “on campus,” and let everyone else telecommute. To keep everyone in touch, you can still have a weekly meeting where people who work locally come into the office and others join in via video conferencing. Or you can have fun team-building outings where you cater food, play a trivia game together or have a “walking” meeting in a park. By changing things up and infusing creativity, you’ll encourage more collaboration, even when your workers aren’t all in the same office.
Collaborative Spaces Instead of Offices
If you’re moving to a new, smaller location, you’ll need to make some sacrifices and offices may be the first thing to go. But if many of your employees are now telecommuting, this shouldn’t be too hard. Instead of offices, set up collaborative spaces to encourage creativity and the open sharing of ideas. Encourage telecommuters to drop by and use these common work spaces from time to time. Since you won’t have as much space as you did before, you may need to set up an online calendar so employees can “reserve” workstations and know when space is available.
Set Up Tools for Success
Before you take the telecommuting plunge, you’ll need the technical know-how to set up your employees for success. This means having the tools in place to make sure off-site collaboration is smooth and efficient. Have a secure system for sharing files rather than relying on email, such as Dropbox or Nomadesk. Have a good videoconferencing system set up, like Skype or Google Hangouts. Get everyone on the same collaborative system for sharing information and tasks, like Slack, Asana, Trello or Podio. You’ll also want to make sure that your off-site employees’ files are always backed up on the cloud and they’re using a secure password generator.
As you prepare for a telecommute office, work on overcoming any biases you may subconsciously have about people who work off-site. For example, it’s easy for bosses to give more promotions to the employees they see every day because they don’t see firsthand how hard their off-site employees are working. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that remote work can actually increase productivity, while also decreasing stress, turnover and absenteeism. If you can see telecommuting and downsizing in your business’s future, you’ll find yourself very grateful for the decision in the long term.