Working from home is a dream come true for many business owners, and offering your employees the option to telecommute or enjoy a virtual office can be a win-win. You may be able to pay them less for the “trade” of working from home. Plus, you’ll enjoy lower overhead, happier (and more productive) employees, and ultimately your customers will reap all the benefits. However, there are a few things you (and your work from home) employees need in order to optimize the business.
Don’t underestimate the importance of communication basics, like a landline, internet and maybe even cable (depending on your business). When your customers call in, they need to feel like they’re talking to an informed, knowledgeable expert (even if that expert is working in yoga pants). As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your employees’ home offices encourage a positive experience for your customers.
Here are a few things every home office needs:
1. Both landlines and mobile devices
What happens if your employees are working during a power outage? If they only have a landline, that means they won’t be able to take customer calls (and your customers might be all around the world). It’s not just home answering businesses that need both landline and mobile devices, although that setup is a great foundation according to Chron. Make sure calls are forwarded to landlines/mobile devices when employees are on the clock.
2. Video conferencing capabilities
Whether you’re offering video support for your customers and your employees take these calls at home or you require video meetings with your workers, superior video conferencing technology is a must. This includes webcam, speakers, microphone, and a home office that looks like you’d wish. You can dictate the background, colors, business dress, etc. just like you would in a brick and mortar office. Check out LinkedIn’s ideas for contemporary yet professional dress codes to get started.
3. Around the clock hours
Obviously you can’t (and don’t want to!) make any employee work around the clock. However, offering a variety of shifts so that your customers enjoy 24/7 support is a good idea. This is especially crucial if you have customers around the world, or if you provide a service like web hosting or you’re a locksmith. Demands don’t only happen during business hours, and this gives your employees flexibility while giving your customers the service they deserve.
Encouraging your employees to embrace ergonomics at home will have a positive trickle down effect for your customers. It protects their health when sitting long hours, increases productivity, and makes them happier (and happy employees mean happy customers). If you’re really committed, purchase ergonomic home furniture for your employees and require usage.
5. Great Wi-Fi
You can’t work from home with dial-up or a shoddy internet connection. While your employees might want to save money by working from Starbucks down the street, public internet isn’t necessarily safe or reliable. This should be a requirement, and you might be the one ponying up the cash for it in some cases.
6. Quantifiable results
It’s pretty easy to “work” from home when you don’t have to report what you’ve been doing. Whether it’s answering a certain number of calls per day, writing a certain amount of reports, or otherwise performing, make sure your employees are actually working when they’re supposed to be.
Working from home is a drool-inducing benefit that just might help you attract the best employees. However, it doesn’t come without some challenges. Not all employees are cut out to work from home, and if that’s the case you need to either let them go or offer an alternative (like working from the office).