Do you allow your employees to work remotely? Do you work remotely? Both sides of the same coin – The Remote Worker. According to the “Global Work Place Analytics,” August 2012 information. “telecommuting grew by 73% between 2005-2011, and the 2012 Status of Telework in Federal Government Report shows 31% of Federal Workers are eligible for telework (down from 61% in 2011).” The information goes on to predict by 2016, one can expect to see a 69% increase in telecommuters.
As an employer, here are important aspects to keep in mind to ensure your remote worker has the tools to be successful, and the company is not put at untoward risk.
— Secure communications –
If you are allowing your employees to connect to the corporate network from a remote locale, you must ensure the connectivity is via a secure connection. Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the preferred option, thus affording your data has the same level of protection as if you were tethered to the network from within.
— Availability –
Indicate to your mobile worker core hours which you expect the employee to be available. If the normal work day is from 0700-1800 with flexible arrivals, you may wish to ensure the mobile worker is available for the core hours of 0900-1500, which provides flexibility, but also ensures availability
— Collaboration –
Without the ability to virtually walk down the hall to engage your remote worker, you lose spontaneity and connection. Supervisors of remote worker teams need to regularly over communicate, make use of technology such as virtual meeting rooms with video engaged; instant messaging network, etc.
— Company Laptop –
Have a clear information security policy on what the employee can and can not do with the company laptop. According to the 2013 Cisco Annual Security Report, 90 percent of IT professionals note that company devices are to be used for work related activities only; while 38 percent of employees acknowledge breaking the policy.
The employee holds the key to remote worker success. As an employee, you are now under your own direct supervision. Tranette Ledford, owner of Tranette Ledford Communications, notes how working remotely requires that odd mix of discipline and flexibility.
“The work day still involves a full set of hours dedicated to the job, and the discipline to devote those hours to work,” she says. “But it also allows for flexibility. You’ve eliminated the time spent in commuting and you can set your own hours both inside and outside the 9 to 5 box. But inherent in that flexibility is the discipline required to meet the demands and deadlines of your clients or boss. You have to capitalize on your ability to be both autonomous and a team player.”
With that in mind, here are a few important reminders to make your remote working experience a success.
— Encrypt your data – hard drive, usb sticks, smart cards, etc. Unlikely your environment has the same security controls as the office.
— Mobile devices – encrypt email and company data if possible; set device keys; set remote wipe; backup often.
— Communicate – don’t allow yourself to be isolated, engage with your teammates, over communicate, be inclusive in discussions. Out of sight – out of mind should not apply.
— Travel security – travel with privacy filters to obscure your screen from shoulder-surfing; carry a lock to secure your device to an immovable object and lock your device to the vehicle if leaving the device unattended for any period of time.
Remote working is and can be a benefit both to employers, as well as employees. But what of the self-employed? Ledford also commented on the challenge for those working remotely who are also self-employed.
“The self-marketing you have to weave in, to stay in business; time for networking, meeting others in person, attending events, reaching out to prospective clients, etc,” Ledford says. “In all, it’s satisfying and can be lucrative. But I’ve found that it requires more work to stay in business remotely than to work for someone who has set your schedule and your duties for you. I’d caution anyone to consider all of this before jumping in. But if you’ve got the ability, the option, and the personality that allows you to work solo most of every day, it can be an immensely satisfying career move.”
In sum, working remotely is a win-win-win for the employee, the employer and the clients, providing realistic expectations are set between the employee and employer (and clients if appropriate).