As I’m working from home today, I thought a post on telecommuting would be appropriate. Did you know that more and more Americans are working from home? Research from World at Work shows that number of Americans who worked from home or remotely at least one day per month for their employer was 17.2 million in 2008. As the trend continues to grow in popularity below are some suggestions that should help you – business owners – keep both you and your teleworkers happy and productive.
Defined telework policies and training. While a larger business may have an official policy, a small business might opt for something more informal. But in general, it's worth setting up some ground rules. For example, if using work-provided laptops or smartphones, employees should understand their limits in terms of appropriate usage. Downloading large, non-work related files with a provided 3G card, for instance, could easily tack on overage charges if the card has a monthly bandwidth cap.
Robust and secure remote access. The most important aspect of the at-home work experience is the ability to work as fast and with as much access as an onsite employee. Here's what it takes to get there:
- A fast Internet connection. When speed is of the essence, not just any connection will do. Many cable Internet providers don't have the bandwidth necessary for a smooth working experience. Instead, look for a fiber-to-the-premise (or home office) connection. Verizon's FiOS Internet provides download speeds from up to 15 to 50 Mbps and symmetrical speeds of up to 35 Mbps. Equally important is upload speeds, which lets you navigate a remote server and save documents with as much wait time as in person. FiOS has upload speeds from 5 to 35 Mbps. If FiOS isn't available, Verizon's High Speed Internet is another viable option.
- A full featured security suite and backup system. A major productivity killer is technical difficulties, and the biggest issues typically are from viruses and equipment failure. So Internet security and online backup are critical. Verizon provides both in an on-demand format and in options for the home and the business. The best small business solution is the Data Protection Premium package, which includes security to block viruses and hackers, encryption services to keep sensitive emails and documents safe, and automatic online backup to protect documents from technology failure.
Collaboration tools to compensate for lack of face-to-face interaction. One of the areas where remote working suffers is in lack of personal interaction. Fortunately, collaboration tools exist that overcome this obstacle. Verizon provides the Verizon Collaboration Center (VCC) that provides an enterprise-grade collaboration platform allowing everyone you work with to access shared contacts, data, documents, hold discussions and set up meetings at their convenience from wherever they are. Web conferencing, presentation sharing, electronic whiteboards and webcams all help maintain an atmosphere of teamwork. And right now, you can try Verizon's VCC free for 30 days (no credit card required).
To learn more about how Verizon can help small businesses keep their remote employees productive, visit Verizon's Small Business Center.