Can You Really Cook Dinner and Prepare a Strategic Plan at the Same Time?


So you think you can……….

send the kids off to school…

get the laundry done…

walk the dog…

squeeze in a doctor’s appointment…

have dinner ready…

and still get your work presentation prepared too?

Well then, here it is: a process for getting a telecommuting program started in your own nonprofit organization. First there is the preparation.

A. Develop a Telecommuting Policy Statement.  This can briefly convey your philosophy on a work from home benefit, help to provide consistency and predictability and create an awareness within the organization.  This policy should be communicated to all employees and included in your employee handbook. Items to be covered should at least include eligibility requirements, employer/employee obligations and security/confidentiality issues.

B. Analyze Tasks. Remember that task should come before employee in the selection process. Administrative positions- like resource development, finance, human resources or communications-  are typically good candidates. Tasks with one or more of the following attributes should be considered low lying fruit.

  • Heavy data entry
  • Heavy telephone contact
  • Highly independent of other tasks regarding final completion
  • Easy to measure output
  • Large number of individuals cross-trained to do it
  • Autonomy to correct errors
  • Repetitiveness
  • Difficult to do in office environment

Then complete these 5 steps in the order presented.

  1. Conduct an employee Work Climate Survey. Get direct feedback about what motivates employees, their needs and expectations, problems they meet and their overall receptiveness to working outside the office. For more information about staff burnout, see this post.
  2. Select Telecommuters. Identify a profile for the ideal candidate. Initial selection should require (a) that the task could be more effectively performed in a telecommuting environment, (b) the employee is receptive to the idea and has the necessary skills and work habits to be successful and (c) the mission and employee could benefit from the selection.
  3. Modify Work Systems. Permitting employees to work outside the office raises more considerations. Change policies and procedures as necessary to assure a smooth work flow.
  4. Assess Technological Needs. Make sure the employee  has the proper tools at their disposal, including furnishings and supplies. You will need to decide who will be paying for each expense.
  5. Get started and evaluate results. Financial and non-financial benchmarks should be established and regularly monitored. Follow-up surveys should also be conducted and any changes made.

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