If your business has employees all working from different locations telecommuting to your "virtual office," you should consider writing some home office guidelines. This will help standardize the capabilities of each worker, ensure compatible workflow throughout your system, and help you manage your employees in cyberspace.
Consider these issues in your guidelines:
- Home office location -- Urge workers to set up their home offices in a separate room that will allow for uninterrupted work.
- Home office equipment -- Provide or specify (depending on the situation) the minimum computer systems necessary for your workers.
- Computer software -- Standardize the software programs used so files will be compatible and collaboration on documents will be possible.
- Procedures for system logins -- Keeping track of who is accessing central databases and when may help you manage security, as well as your staff.
- Procedures for submitting time-sheets
- Accessibility requirements during regular business hours -- With the flexibility of working from home offices, you and your employees will find yourselves often working odd hours. Don't let this freedom prevent you from be accessible to other workers or your clients.
- Procedures for forwarding calls or e-mails when workers must leave the office during business hours
- Protocols for client interactions -- This should include e-mail protocols (since we tend to use less formal language in e-mail), traditional correspondence protocols, meeting place protocols, and any others that might come into play in your business.
These guidelines may not need to be formally printed and distributed, but there should be at least some thought put into the standards you want your employees to be aware of and follow. With regular communication and open invitations to employees for suggestions that can bring about improvements your business can not only succeed, it can thrive.