Many IT roles are ideal for a flexible working policy, however there are always issues to consider when implementing such policies. This article addresses some of these issues and provides some guidelines to ensure that both the business and the employees are better off for it.
Certain roles within IT lend themselves to task based planning, which is perfectly suitable for remote working. A software developer for instance is assigned tasks, each task has an agreed timeline and then the dev gets on with it. As long as the tasks are being done to a reasonable schedule and at the quality that has been specified, then the business is better off by having happier employees and they are happier because they can work when and how it suits them. The regular review of the task progress eliminates most of the potential pitfalls. So productivity needs to be quantifiable.
Email can be cumbersome, so instant messaging and VOIP phones should be used to make life easier. Additionally, for certain types of tasks and early phases of projects, there is no substitute for being in the same location and having a face-to-face. Bottom line is that communications must be easy for all concerned and at certain points there is no substitute, which has to be recognised by everyone within the team.
It’s sometimes a pre-existing idea within a business that remote working is an opportunity to slack off. If it’s handled correctly the company gets additional hours for no charge because of the additional pressure for team members to be more productive and put in a ‘good shift’ when they cannot physically be seen, that works to the company’s advantage and all parts of the organisation need to understand that. This can be a harder sell in some companies, but that’s part of the challenge.
With longer and more expensive commutes, cost of office space and better infrastructure available to homes across the country, home working is making increasingly more sense. That doesn’t detract from the fact that some people just aren’t suited to it or they might not have the correct environment at home that is conducive to it, that has to be taken into account. It doesn’t mean they are bad employees or slackers, nor that home working doesn’t work, but it does need to be identified and agreed that it might not be suitable for them. Finally, any employer obligations need to be considered such as health and safety assessments where applicable, insurance, etc…
George Toursoulopoulos is a technology specialist and CEO of Synetec, one of the UK’s leading providers of bespoke software solutions.