How can you be sure allowing staffers to telecommute was the right move? Start by making sure none of them exhibit these slacker symptoms:
- Productivity drops and doesn’t go back up. Sure, it’ll probably take your staffers a certain amount of time to transition back to the performance level they were at in the office. But be sure to keep watch. If an off-site employee is taking more than a few weeks to get back up to speed, telecommuting may not be the right fit — and that’ll cost you.
- Messages go unanswered. Telecommuting is based on the understanding that the staffer/staffers should be reachable at just about any time throughout the work day. If IMs, e-mails or calls are going unanswered without valid excuses, then a red flag should go up.
- Strange responses to your messages. Technology can be a godsend to lazy telecommuters and a bane to cost-conscious employers. Specialized programs like Expect help skilled slackers to craft e-mails and IMs that hide the fact they’re not around. If you’re suspicious, experts suggest sending messages hinting at layoffs or promotions to test those suspicions.
- Complacency becomes the norm. Telecommuting is a privilege for those employees who have proven they’re up to task. But you want your better employees to step up from time to time and accept more responsibility. If your remote workers never want to do more than the bare minimum, then you’re not getting the most from your telecommuters.