Jim Reidy spoke about telecommuting at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employment Law & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. In short, he noted that telecommuting could save companies about $11,000 a year per worker and made employees happier as they saved about $7000 a year on commuting costs, office attire, and the like. Workers reported more satisfaction and better work life balance. So why are many companies holding off or even recalling their telecommuters back to the office? Pipkins has endeavored to tackle six obstacles Reidy highlighted in his speech that companies need to manage to create a successful telecommuting experience:
- Monitoring the employees’ productivity
- Accurately recording employee’s hours worked
- Identifying speed and performance on tasks
- Proper training and coaching
- Proper scheduling
- Interaction with co-workers and management
There is relatively little research on productivity regarding telecommuting. Some suggest the distractions at home are different from the office, but still exist as a drain on productivity. Television, children, telephone calls, and those household chores piling up right under your nose might be just as distracting as the noisy co-worker or the boss popping in to chat at the office. Businesses need an effective tool for monitoring workers at home. Comparisons can then be made with the employees in the office to determine the most productive environment. We argue that one measure of productivity is time spent on task, and our performSMART™ tools are designed specifically to make these measurements.
Timekeeping, especially for workers who are non-exempt, is crucial for legal purposes, payroll accuracy, and billing precision. For the most part, these are commonsense – to avoid legal consequences one needs to properly pay workers for their time (and overtime) and bill clients based on time spent on task. Without an accurate time clock that can specifically identify task being worked on, accuracy becomes a just a guess. Management guesses that the employee put in X hours on the task, and has no real idea of what the overtime hours were spent on . . . a problem encountered much more often with work at home employees. However, performSMART provides accurate tracking of time per task. Time to stop guessing.
Performance speed on task is a different concept that can now be measured in and out of the office. This concept involves the both the accuracy of the work being done and the time spent to do it. With Pipkins’ performSMART products, managers can gauge how well the workers are doing, both in the office and from home, and how long that particular worker spends on each task they perform. Managers can then coach the poor performers, either one-on-one or by making and sharing video recordings of the top performers – our LookingGlass™ mentoring and collaboration tool makes both forms of mentoring possible. The LookingGlass add-on allows you to view the worker at any time, record them anytime, host side-by-side coaching sessions, view their screens – all forms of quality monitoring that allow management visual evidence of what a worker is doing and how well they are doing it. A great training tool. This information can further help in determining which workers perform best at home and the ones that work best in office.
Pipkins is legendary for its suite of scheduling and forecasting tools. Our products work just as well for workers with flexible schedules as it does for those with fixed schedules. No more guessing about whether your at-home agent is working – our adherence monitor and performSMART toolkit will provide management with all the tools necessary when it comes to scheduling.
Finally, LookingGlass can be the social network needed to keep at home workers from feeling isolated or left out of the loop. Face-to-face connections can be made instantaneously – pop in to say hello, talk about a particular task problem with supervisor, bring in other workers to brainstorm, hold meetings, coach, train,. . . the list is endless. LookingGlass and performSMART tools bring the at-home worker “virtually” back to the office, and both are part of Pipkins’ new WORKFORCE NETWORK™.
A privately-held, American-owned company, Pipkins, Inc. was founded in 1983, and is based in St. Louis, Missouri. The firm is a leading provider of Workforce Management solutions for the contact center industry. Today, Pipkins’ systems forecast, plan and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. In addition, Pipkins WFM solutions have applications for back office and remote workers, as well as a range of other business operations.
by: Martha Heltsley, PhD