Offsite Employee Engagement

Keep your work-from-home staff regularly updated, engaged and feeling like they have a valuable role in the company

By Kathy Mercure

Karen Gordon knows a thing or two about working from home. She set-up a telecommuting program in a past HR position. This organizational development consultant and partner at Halifax-based Rosson & Gordon predicts that “telecommuting will become even more important in the future.” You needn’t fear staff will mow the lawn on company time. “When you treat people like adults, they will work like adults.” Gordon assures the productivity level substantially increases when working from home.

T4G helps its clients use technology to run their businesses better and firmly believes its people should be able to work where they are most effective and comfortable—whether it's home, office or the client's site. Voted to a ‘best of’ list on the website, Best Workplaces Canada, for five years in a row, T4G sees its flexibility as an asset. Peter Moorhouse, who holds the title, VP in charge of people, is based in Halifax and often works from home. “The overriding benefit of allowing people to work from where they live is that we have access to the best and brightest—not only in Canada, but around the world.”

Del Paquette is the poster boy for telecommuting T4G-style. He works full-time from his home office in Okotoks, Alta., overseeing video production, event planning and onboarding new staff via videoconference. “Some days I miss the camaraderie of the office, but the lifestyle wasn’t what I wanted. I’m in touch with the office all day every day. And besides, work is something you do, not a place you go.”

Tipping the Scales for Work-Life Balance
Karen Gordon of Halifax-based Rosson & Gordon offers these tips for a work-from-home program:

1. Develop a telecommuting policy that clearly outlines your expectations.

2. Ensure the telecommuter has a dedicated, permanent home workstation.

3. For permanent employees, be prepared to kick-in for a laptop, ergonomic workstation, adequate Internet service and supplies necessary for the job.

4. Plan regular in-office meetings. Gordon recommends weekly or bi-weekly face-to-face meetings.

5. Connect daily via phone, email, IM chat and videoconference. If you don’t communicate, your at-home-employee could feel disconnected and row off course.

6. Make sure your offsite staff are invited to staff luncheons, gatherings and awards events.

7. A shared space with a laptop Internet connection, desk, chair and phone will make the telecommuter feel welcome when at headquarters.

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