7 Things the CIO Should Know About Telecommuting

7 Things the CIO Should Know About Telecommuting

IT workers who telecommute share advice for their bosses about the process, technology, and attitudes necessary for staff to be productive when they work from home

Reader ROI

  • How not to create dissension, distrust and workflow confusion
  • What processes help remote workers interact with other team members
  • Who pays for what when you have teleworkers

Telecommuting provides employees with the flexibility and quiet they need to optimize their productivity. Plus, it offers employers opportunities to save money and recruit workers from a more geographically diverse — and potentially cheaper — talent pool. For IT professionals, telecommuting is certainly the best work/life option.

However, working from home isn't always easy for individuals or employers. For telecommuting arrangements to work for both parties, employees need to be self-motivated, have access to the necessary technology (such as a high-speed Internet connection and a VPN), and clearly define job duties that can be accomplished remotely. At the same time, employers need to make their teleworkers feel like they're a part of the team, integrate telecommuters into workflows and judge employee productivity by results rather than visual cues.

But too often, IT management doesn't understand the key issues that can affect productivity and team morale. Managers can make painful and expensive errors even when their hearts are in the right place. If you get telecommuting right, you'll have a crew of independent technologists who get their jobs done efficiently; if not, you'll create dissension, distrust and workflow confusion.

For telecommuting to succeed, you may need to change, or at least examine, a team's workflow

You don't have to repeat others' expensive mistakes. Several telecommuting IT professionals were willing to share their insights (via e-mail) about the benefits the practice brings to the enterprise, processes that help remote workers interact with other team members, and the irritations that twist telecommuters' knickers in a knot. Here's what your employees truly want you to know about telecommuting.

Telecommuters also need to adopt techniques for working at home, both to keep their sanity and to move their career along (see "Telecommuters Need to Develop Special Skills").

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