Working from Home, Is this the future?

Working from home. Fieldmotion field services software gives you the flexibility

Should businesses allow their employees to work from home?

The advancement of modern technology and its position in the workplace has for a few years now sparked the debate of whether it would be functional, profitable, or even wise to allow employees to work from home. If your company has more than one office or branch in more than one city, thinking about allowing employees to work from home may be a very beneficial option both financially and logistically.

Like with any proposition, there are definite pros and cons. Firstly, companies need to consider whether the necessary requirements are in place to make this a viable option.

The first precondition to consider is adequate connectivity between the main office and the employee at home. This would include a stable telephone line (particularly if the employee is working in a customer service or telesales role) and a quality computer and Internet connection. A thing that definitely needs to be secured is the connection to the company network that would enable the employee to access the necessary company resources, intranet and e-mail, but which would also allow you as an employer to control the productivity and quality of their work.

The possible benefits of allowing your employees to work from home can be quite persuasive:

– There is a possibility of definite financial savings on office space, resources and commuting to work.
– More flexible hours can accommodate both work and family responsibilities.
– Work at home can provide a more comfortable and peaceful environment.
– Since employees can work longer with fewer interruptions, it can lead to higher productivity.
– Working from home can lead to your employees being more motivated and more loyal.
– It can raise the reputation of your enterprise as being family friendly and socially responsible.
– There is a good chance you will have fewer situations to deal with stressed employees.

As with any argument there are also the possible downsides. Here are some considerations in that respect to keep in mind:

– There is the risk of possible distractions, like children that have to be taken care of, or lack of will to do office work in a home environment.
– There is a collaborative element involved in office work. Employees working from home will have less opportunities to interact with others that they are supposed to work with, and that can particularly impact joint tasks.
– Of course there are also employees who need more supervision or who are just starting out and would need to spend more time at the office under the supervision of management.
– Lack of direct communication, both between you and your employees, the employees themselves, as well as your business customers. This is particularly important if the essence of your business involves direct communication with customers.
– There is always confidential information to safeguard, even if it is only personnel files. You would need to set up steps to safeguard confidential and sensitive information, particularly if your company e-mail and intranet data is to be available outside office network.

There are obviously many arguments for and against allowing your employees to work from home. Before making a decision it may be best to look at the structure of the business and see if it is viable option for any particular department or area. For example it may make more sense for field based sales agents to work from home given that they may have to travel great distances to visit prospective customers. If they cover a particular area of the country then it would make more sense for them to be based from home rather than having to ‘clock in’ at the office each morning. In this case it would only be necessary for them to visit the office once a month to give a report on progress or sales pipeline. If the company used a Field Services Software solution such as FIELDMOTION, they could receive up to date information in real time from their employees at any time.

A wise course of action may be to run a test program. Not only to see how the employees are adapting to such a situation, but also to see how all the technical elements such as data security is operating. Also bear in mind that as an employer you would still be responsible for all safety regulations, even at the employee’s home and that includes, electrical equipment safety, workstation assessment, lighting levels and other health & safety considerations.

Fieldmotion –  Workflow Management & Field Services Software

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Who remembers the first time they used a TV remote control??

 

Can you remember the first time you encountered the magic of a TV with remote control?

If not, you’re probably in the enviable position of having grown up surrounded by this technology and are younger than me…

But yet…there was a time that if you desired to change the channel, well you had to stand up and do it yourself, or perhaps unfairly get your younger sibling to do it for you.

But then the 1980’s happened and the infrared TV remote control became more and more popular, to the point where TV manufacturers stopped making TVs with buttons for channel selection and a dial for volume.

The tech moved on.

The digital revolution has pretty much changed so much of how we interact with the world, communications, consumerism, everything from booking a flight to making a purchase online. Catching up with friends with a skype call, listening to new music instantly, everything is in the \’now\’. That’s been one of the big drivers of this digital revolution. If we can have something now, it doesn’t make sense to wait longer than we need to for it.

So, you would think this philosophy has worked its way into every facet of business as well…

And it has in terms of fast internet access and our ability to collaborate with people not just sitting beside us in our office, but with people on the other side of the world…

Yet, some old habits die hard. Let’s imagine \’Steve\’ works in our office administering a team of field workers, assigning jobs based on location, availability, priority and a multitude of other factors. Steve is good at his job, but all his time is taken up with maintaining contact with field workers and chasing up on paperwork from each job. And when the paperwork eventually  arrives into the office, then he spends even longer processing it……after that he spends more time issuing invoices, scanning documents, entering data from paper forms into digital medium….

It’s clear that this way of doing business is very far removed from the ‘now’. When you think about it, this business practice is arguably as old as commerce itself. So why is it that if life is moving at \’the speed of now\’, in business, some of us move at the speed of 1 day late, 3 days late, 1 week late, 2 weeks late etc…

Why are some businesses, to use an analogy, ‘getting up from the sofa, walking over to the TV, pressing channel 3, then channel 4, changing the volume, walking back to the sofa, sitting down and then realising we don’t even want to watch that show…getting up again etc…’,

Getting back to Steve in the office, if his business were operating at ‘the speed of now’, Steve would allocate jobs to his field workers in real time, deciding which worker is most appropriate or closest based on an instant visual timeline. Steve would be able to ‘send’ that job directly to his field worker – \’Ben\’, who would receive instant notification on his mobile device, and instructions on where, when and what is required to carry out the job. Ben goes and completes the job, fills in his paperwork….except ‘in the speed of now’, Ben’s paperwork is not a paper sheet which has to eventually make its way back to the office for Steve to input and process…

All the paperwork and form data is right there on his mobile device. Right down to signature capture, barcode scanning, photos of the work carried out…and in ‘the speed of now’, Ben clicks to complete the job. That job is immediately marked as ‘complete’ back in the office. Invoices are issued, PDF documents with the form data are generated, stock levels are updated. Follow up actions are scheduled.

Steve sees the job is complete, sees that Ben is available for another job near by. Steve and Ben’s productivity has rocketed. Not only that, customer satisfaction is at an all time high. More work done means more profit.

Steve even has time to daydream about when he was a kid and used to make his younger brother change the TV to the cartoons for him. He decides he probably should say sorry…

 

Fieldmotion Field Services and Workflow Management Software

We enable your business to operate at ‘the speed of now’. Contact us to arrange for a free demo.