Telecommuting is an Essential Part of a Business Continuity Plan

May 28, 2015

There are several factors that may lead to a temporary business closure. Bad weather, floods, construction and other incidents can leave a business out of operation for days, weeks or even months. One option to prevent business closure and promote continuity is telecommuting. This strategy continues growing in popularity with more businesses relying on virtual operations for many functions. With a good telecommuting strategy, employers and their employees can stay connected and continue virtual operations of the business through an IT network. Although telecommuting should not be the only continuity solution, it is an important option to implement for better business longevity protection.

Identify Telecommuting Staff and Tasks
There are several challenges in this step. However, it is important to analyze and organize information to determine which tasks and staff members are best suited for telecommuting. When choosing staff, it is important to pick people who are able to work on their own. If there are staff members who are unable to work on their own with very little direction, it may be best to delegate tasks to another member. While some workers may be self-starting stars, their jobs may not be appropriate for telecommuting. For example, a good worker who must access paper files and complete mostly hands-on tasks in the workplace would not be a good telecommuting candidate simply for the lack of resources at home or at a remote location.

Choosing which workers to assign telecommuting tasks to can be a delicate subject in the workplace. Some employees may feel that they are favored less than others. It is important to have a meeting with the staff and explain that some jobs are better suited for telecommuting. Addressing employee concerns is important to help workers remember that they are all valuable and vital parts of the workforce.

Formally Document the Telecommuting Policy
After deciding which tasks and workers to make part of the telecommuting plan, write the plan out. Decide who will complete various tasks, how remote activation will take place, when activation will take place and how to notify non-telecommuting workers that they should not come to the office.

It is important to determine how remote work attendance will be verified and tracked. Outline any instructions or guidelines for employees who need to contact managers or other personnel by email, phone or video conference. If necessary, make an agreement form for telecommuting employees to sign that shows they understand their duties. Analyze what equipment and accessories employees have access to in their remote locations. It may be necessary to purchase additional computers, printers, fax machines or other equipment for them to use. If this is needed, make a purchase plan for these items.

Analyze Technology Requirements
After determining if additional equipment is needed, it is important to think about networking components. Employees will need remote access to an IT network. Security and communications should be the top priority for planning a network. This is especially true if confidential and sensitive information is shared across channels. When using an IT network, make sure workers have access to support if they need it and there is no IT department in the workplace. All telecommuting workers should have the software, VPN access, security software and other programs necessary to perform business functions. If companies plan to install equipment in a worker's home, it may also be necessary to coordinate VoIP telephone access for that individual.

When all of these factors have been addressed and the plan is drafted, it is time to purchase the necessary equipment and run a practice test. Schedule a day where telecommuting workers will be told to work remotely. Have them implement the strategy and measure the results. Was it a successful plan? Do any changes need to be made to help it run more efficiently? Make any modifications as necessary because it is important to be prepared when telecommuting is truly needed. To learn more about this option and other business continuity solutions, discuss concerns with an agent.


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