is-your-business-making-the-most-of-telecommutingMany of today’s businesses are online ventures that don’t require a traditional brick-and-mortar space. Even if the business does have an office, the dynamics are quickly changing – and owners have to be prepared.

One of the biggest trends in business is telecommuting. The annual American Community Survey shows that approximately 50% of jobs could be performed by remote workers, at least partially. The survey also revealed that upwards of 90% of workers would like to work from home at least a few days a week.

A growing number of businesses are offering a flexible schedule as a benefit to employees, but it could be even more beneficial for the business. While part-time remote workers save $2,000-7,000 a year on average, employers save $11,000 per employee. The federal government saw this firsthand a few years ago when a snow storm kept employees in Washington at home for four days. Having the employees work remotely saved the government $32 million.

But there’s a catch. Your business has to be set up to effectively manage remote employees, contractors and freelancers. Fortune 1000 companies are reconfiguring their spaces and systems for telecommuters that aren’t at their desk half the time, and you should too.

Making Your Business More Mobile Friendly

One of the first things that is always suggested when a business has remote workers is to put a plan in place for keeping everyone connected. The makers of Asure Software, a cloud-based suite of management tools, are among the first to design solutions specifically for this purpose. It’s a trend that is likely to increase in the coming years as more B2B companies cater to this growing segment.

Making your business more mobile so that remote workers can remain a part of the team and stay productive means that the owners have to set them up for success.

Asset Analysis and Management

Making a smooth transition to telecommuting requires that a company fully analyze its operation first. You’ll need to know how you use your current space, which resources are shared and when people are working. This data will give you the information you need to make strategic changes that optimize efficiency and help remote workers get their jobs done.

Online Project Management

Almost every project requires numerous employees coming together to get work done. Concern over communication and collaboration is one of the few hang-ups that keep businesses from letting employees telecommute.

This is where cloud-based technology really shines. With everything in the cloud, resources are accessible by everyone on the team no matter which device they are using or where they’re working. Using a cloud-based project management system will allow you to setup projects, add resources, initiate conversations and keep everyone on the same page. These solutions have actually been popular for years because they help keep projects on track.

Virtual Time Tracking

Even if your remote workers or freelancers aren’t being paid by the hour, you may still want to know when they are working. This data can actually be very valuable when you need to estimate the time a project will take or the salary for a new employee. Time-tracking software is the simple solution. The more robust the system is the better, but it should allow for both you and the employee to access the online timesheets so that times can be reviewed and approved.

Resource and Workspace Scheduling

Most remote workers only telecommute part time. So where do they work when they’re in office? One of the benefits of telecommuting is that it cuts down on business expenses and the resources needed to support your workforce. The trade-off is having to allocate and manage the reduced resources and workspaces.

A mobile workspace scheduling tool allows employees to reserve a desk or meeting room when they’re going to be at the office. The same can be done with resources like tablets, stationary or tools. With this type of tool you’ll never have to worry about remote workers using a shared space.

Video Conferencing

Now that bandwidth is abundant and cameras are high resolution, video conferencing is a popular method of communication with remote employees. You’ll still get your “face time” without having to physically be in the same room. Just make sure all of your employees are set up with the same video chat programs so that everyone can conference in at once.

It will take some trial and error, but with the right tools and systems in place, telecommuting can make your business more productive. When it’s really done right you’ll also save thousands of dollars on each employee that works remotely.