The Employee “Work From Home” Dilemma

CEOs often struggle with allowing employees to work from home.  Certainly, it has become a more common and accepted practice over the years—but that doesn’t mean it is right for every business or for every employee.

Often, it is the employee who brings up the subject of telecommuting and invariably focuses upon the perceived productivity aspect with an argument such as:  “I won’t be wasting time getting to and from the office or be hindered by the distractions in the office.”  The CEO immediately thinks about the the distractions that are present in a home environment along with the lack of direct supervision, and considers their impact upon productivity.

If you are facing this dilemma, it is vital to carefully evaluate the situation prior to acting upon it.  Here are five initial questions to ask yourself as you begin the process:

  1. Do I trust this person to do their job to the best of their ability while working at a remote location?
  2. Will there be a loss of control and/or coordination issues as a result of this change?
  3. Will this create internal issues such as jealously among employees who may see this as preferential treatment?
  4. Will this impact my management style?
  5. How this affect the company’s culture?

Next, evaluate the potential benefits you feel may be realized by allowing an employee or employees to work from home, such as:

  • Lower overhead cost
  • Increased productivity
  • Greater employee motivation and loyalty
  • Expanded time-zone coverage
  • Wider pool of job applicants

Telecommuting presents potential drawbacks that require careful consideration along with actionable alternatives that can be implemented to minimize their impact upon the business.  I’ve already mentioned some of them, but their are important enough that they bear repeating:

  • Loss of control/collaboration
  • Greater effort to coordinate projects/schedules
  • Jealousy among employees who are not allowed to telecommute
  • Loss of influence/breakdown in company culture
  • Isolation
  • Legal issues concerning working hours/length of day, etc.

Successful business owners demand productivity and accountability from their employees, regardless of their location.  Some CEOs take a “cut and dried” position of not allowing employees to work from home while others are more flexible.

Rest assured that if “Work From Home” hasn’t come up yet in your organization—it is only a matter of time until it does so.  How will you handle it?  Please let me know if I can help.

Alan