Sweetening the pot with some additional perks may swing a job candidate your way and cost your company next to nothing. We're talking about flex time, direct deposit of paychecks, having good policies on personal leave that fit in with employees' goals, employee recognition programs, holiday parties, etc.
Allowing flexible work schedules in your business is very often the most strategic thing you can do from a hiring standpoint. Often companies that offer flex time find that their employees are more productive, motivated, and loyal. And why wouldn't they be? Employees can alleviate quite a bit of stress from life just by coming in to work an hour earlier and leaving an hour earlier to miss the interstate parking lot scene, and it can also give them more time with their families.
But how do you structure it so that you don't have disgruntled employees whose jobs really can't be flexible? There are ways you can adjust to make the majority of your employees happy. For instance, let your employees come up with creative ways to do it themselves. If they are more empowered to find a solution then they'll probably come up with one they would like. If it's agreeable to management then everyone is happy and more productive. Try out the flex solutions your employees come up with on a limited basis and try to measure your results. Also, make sure your employees keep your clients in mind when they devise their plans. Any plan that hinders client contact probably isn't one you want to adopt.
As I sit here with my laptop on my screened-in porch with the birds singing and early spring sun shining, I would be hard pressed to come up with a reason for why telecommuting couldn't work for your company. But of course there are always situations where telecommuting simply won't work. You obviously can't let your receptionist telecommute, because who would be there to receive! And, chances are that many of your employees aren't even interested in telecommuting. For those that are, however, think about the benefits to both them personally and to the company. The company can use the office space for other employees, storage, equipment, or a break room. You can simply set aside an area to be used by your telecommuters when they do venture into the office. You can experience the benefit of added productivity by your telecommuters. Lack of interruptions is one of the biggest perks of telecommuting. How many times have you had a tight deadline and an endless parade of co-workers stopping by your office to tell you the latest joke from the water cooler? More than you can count probably. You'll also benefit from the increased loyalty and boosted morale of your telecommuting workforce. Face time in an office is way overrated. Today, you have to measure an employee's worth by what they produce, not by how many hours you see them sitting at their computers (or in the break room, or at their co-worker's desk).
The benefits for your employees who telecommute can also be quite substantial. They can save time since their commute is only a brief stroll to their home office (or porch). They also benefit from a quieter and less interrupted environment. They can work whenever the inspiration hits them, too. Or if they have an appointment in the afternoon they can make up the time later that night.
It is quite possible you'll get more work out of employees that you allow to telecommute than the ones that you don't. You do need to investigate potential problems such as liability insurance, workers' compensation issues, office equipment, and confidentiality issues. These may bring to light problems for telecommuting in your line of business. You also need to make sure you have a written policy about how your telecommuters need to operate. For instance, you may make it a policy that your telecommuters have to be accessible during regular office hours even if they're working schedule is slightly different. You may also want to set up a reporting schedule to replace your usual eyeball-to-eyeball meetings to make sure you know at regular intervals where your employees are with projects, or other work. Some other key issues to consider are the relationships you have with your telecommuting employees. Make sure you're not leaving them out of meetings and decisions they should be involved in just because they didn't happen to be in the office at the time. Continued communication is crucial. Think through the process and make sure you cover all bases. If you have to get a proposed telecommuting program approved by upper management, it also helps to have statistics from similar companies that have successful telecommuting programs.