Whether it is on a full or part-time basis, allowing employees to work from home can be extremely beneficial to both parties involved. From an employee's point of view working from home has a number of benefits, such as being able to wake up later, saving the money and time usually spent on commuting and being able to wear whatever they like. Likewise, when looking at it from an employer's perspective money can be saved on office space, bills are reduced and surveys have shown over two thirds of organisations who allow their employees to work from home have seen increased levels of productivity.
Working from home is not for everyone though as some people may find the distractions of home life too great, whilst for others the lack of a 9-5 structure or the absence of co-workers may have a de-motivational effect. It is therefore necessary to vet workers before allowing them to work from home and the best way of doing this is by having new employees work in an office environment for an extended period or until you have an understanding of their productivity; then allow them to work from home on a part-time basis, monitoring their productivity to see if it dips.
Being able to work from home is becoming increasingly popular so it is likely that in the future you may consider hiring somebody who has been able to work from home in the past, if this is the case then gaining a reference from their previous employer may indicate how efficient their ability to work from home really is. Essentially what you need is somebody who is disciplined enough to get out of bed in the morning and turn on their computer, but also relaxed enough to turn it off at the end of the day.
This may seem like an odd thing to say, because you would think as an employer you would want somebody who is motivated and happy to work above and beyond the call of duty. Of course working a couple of hours longer is fine, we have all had to do it to meet a deadline, the problem only arises if it becomes a regular or constant occurrence. There are several reasons why this could become an issue, the biggest being that the employee could end up burning themselves out which will have a negative impact on their ability to work effectively.
Another reason is that just because somebody works into the evening doesn’t mean that they are not engaging in other activities too. For example you do not want someone to carry out work or send emails to clients once they are on their third beer of the evening. Their intentions may be good but their ability to make good decisions will be impaired and having to say 'sorry, they were drunk' to a client who has had work improperly carried out, or has been offended in an email is never a good experience.
If there is one thing that should have become clear by this point, it's that trust is paramount; if you do not have that trust, then you should not allow employees to work autonomously. Another factor that should be considered is how you plan to structure their working day, as someone working from home may benefit from the assignment of a weekly workload, rather than strictly set hours; allowing them greater flexibility.
You should also consider implementing tools and systems which allow your employees to check in with one another regularly, allowing them to gain instructions and seek advice when necessary, and allowing you to monitor their work habits to some degree. There are several programs out there which will facilitate this kind of interaction:Hivedesk – Allows workers to check in from home remotely and select the job that they will be doing. So long as they are checked in, Hivedesk will monitor their activity and create a daily time sheet; it will also be able to take screenshots of their computer at random intervals, allowing you to get a rough idea of their work habits. Worksnaps – A bit more detailed than Hivedesk, Worksnaps takes screenshots every 10 minutes while also monitoring keyboard and mouse usage. On top of this, it also keep a detailed record of their activities and what programs they are using, giving you a clear indication if work is actually being done. There is also a web-cam feature. MySammy – Considerably less in-your-face than Worksnaps, MySammy allows you as a manager to establish which sites and programs are 'productive' and which are not. It then records the usage of these, correlates them and puts the data into spread sheet and graph form so that you can analyse them accordingly. The program offers analysis based on the parameters you input into it, allowing you to get a clear picture on who is working and fulfilling their tasks in a timely manner, and who is struggling and may require some assistance or encouragement.
As a final point, it is important that from time to time you meet with your employees in person to touch base. This can be done under a formal or informal setting, but should be done in accordance with their work schedule and inside of the working day.