Sunday, March 24, 2013

Telework in small business - our experience

How can telework or flexible work practices work for small workplaces. Our business Oi: Organise Internet has now been trialling telework for a year. Gosh, we even stuck our necks out and became the subject of a national Telework promotion campaign. (have a look here at our overdone makeup if you're interested:

Three screens may help organise your home office
Multi Screen Telework

Yahoo and Google are great big employers, which ever way you look at it. They reportedly are not fans of staff teleworking any more, at least if recent media reports are to be believed. Apparently some of their managers want people back in the office. The reports cited a need to bump into each other and 'innovate' around the water coolers (does anyone actually have those any more?).
The reaction to those reports as met with amazement in that such a stand seemed counter to the 'work anywhere' discussions that are quite the rage in many workplace HR discussions.

So what was our reality?
Firstly, Google and Yahoo do have a point. Bumping into each other is important, innovating is important and casual encounters are important.
However we've discovered that these important encounters are not going to disappear anytime soon as we only allow telework one day a week. Plenty of time to innovate in the office. One thing I do know is that it does make us a more family friendly employer. For myself and the staff that is important.

There are upsides of being away from the office distractions too. Our Technical Manager, a disciplined mature family man is definitely a fan. He reports that he can focus on specific tasks without the "innovating interruptions " of the office of the daily distractions of driving in traffic.
It's worth noting that he has organised a quiet study at home and no one else is at home when he's working from there.

What we didn't see coming was the fun a games of being discussed even lampooned in the national media. We've attracted attention on ABC National Radio & TV and more interestingly on Channel 10's The Project last week.

Not so sexy - good for other reasons
Our small business telework experience is characterised as being all very organised and disciplined, not sexy and cool, as a Google office. There is real value all the same, particularly for families and I would think for reducing traffic jams.

In the work place it's added a new element in more flexible work practices. Work practices that can benefit both employer and employees in small business if structured correctly.

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