TECHNOLOGY: The Benefits of Telework for NFPs
8 July 2014 at 11:34 am
Giving staff the chance to work outside the office has many advantages for community organisations, writes Jane Rawson from Infoxchange.
As internet speeds improve and there are more and more options for working online, teleworking is an option every community organisation should look into.
If you’re struggling to find people with the skills you need, teleworking could be the answer. If they can work remotely, people with disabilities, illness and carer responsibilities or people living in regional and remote locations are able to work for organisations they were previously unable to access. Teleworking opens up a whole new workforce.
Diversifying your employee base with workers from your client group can also help your organisation do its job better.
Telework is good for your organisation’s bottom line. Letting people work outside the office can result in:
increased productivity and employee engagement;
fewer lost hours due to traffic or public transport delays;
lower recruitment costs due to higher retention rates associated with employee satisfaction;
lower overheads as less infrastructure is needed;
greater staff productivity.
Having staff out of your line of sight may seem like a terrifying prospect. Will they do any work? What if their equipment is substandard or they injure themselves? It can be comforting to start small.
Set up a pilot program with just a few staff working outside the office for a set period of time – maybe three months. Have some goals to aim for, and record how well the process is going. What were the problems? What succeeded? Were staff and managers happy with how it went?
Based on what you find, you can determine whether you want a telework program and, if you do, how best to set it up.
Some things to consider are where your staff will work, how they’ll stay in contact and work collaboratively with those in the office, and what kinds of standards you’ll set for productivity. There are plenty of options for each.
Staff may work at home or in a co-working space like a hub or a public library. The most important things to have are a good internet connection, a comfortable climate, properly set up ergonomic furniture and no distractions (or, at least, no more distractions than they’d have in the office). Setting standards for productivity should be part of your usual staff-manager catch ups and of regular performance reviews.
As long as they have a decent internet connection, the options for staying in contact and for accessing and sharing files are almost endless. Big providers such as Microsoft and Google have suites of applications that let staff work on documents, spreadsheets and email from anywhere (there are also lots of smaller businesses providing free or open source tools to help you work online).
Video conferencing and instant messaging technology mean staff can still attend meetings and chat to one another without being in the office. If internet is an issue, staff can work outside the office on items which don’t need input from others, and keep in contact on the phone.
If all this sounds like something your organisation could benefit from, have a look at our teleworking digital business kit, developed in partnership with ACOSS. It has much more information and pages of suggestions on how to make remote working work for you.
The teleworking digital business kit is part of ImproveIT, a new site to help community organisations make the most of information technology.
About the author: Jane Rawson is a technical writer at Infoxchange. Infoxchange is a Not for Profit t community organisation that delivers technology for social justice.
This article was contributed in partnership with Connecting Up and Infoxchange, two Not for Profit organisations working to improve the technology capacity of the Not for Profit sector.