General Question

Cruiser's avatar

Does anyone work remotely and strictly from home?

Asked by Cruiser (34984 points ) March 3rd, 2014

My Director of Sales informed me on Friday that he is moving to California. All weekend I was formulating plans to find a replacement but today he proposed that he keep working for me but remotely from his new location.

I am not a micromanager kind of boss but I have never had a remote employee before and not familiar with how I would know what he is doing? What tools will I need to have him on our network and how can I switch customer calls to him? What are some of the ways I can monitor his work day activities?

I can sort of see how this might work but my little brain is not smart enough to see exactly how this could or will work and hope some Jellies can share their experiences with me.

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15 Answers

Judi's avatar

Would you have to pay California Worksrs Comp and disability insurance? Those are much higher in CA than in a lot of places. (Just something to consider. )

hominid's avatar

I am a software engineer. Remote work is very common. I have the option to work from home whenever I want. My office is really just a remote post. It’s me and 6 other people who share an office space, work for different divisions, and all report to different people. My manager works from her home, which is 2.5 hours north of our division’s main office (which is 3.5 hours from my house and remote office). I have also worked at a job that was exclusively remote for 2 years.

@Cruiser: “What are some of the ways I can monitor his work day activities?”

I wouldn’t recommend that you explore remote work in this case. There is no concept of monitoring employees’ activities in remote work. Your performance is evaluated by your work. It will likely involve a large shift in your mindset.

If you are interested in specific tools for managing projects, there are many available. I’m sure you already use some. As for a process, we use a modified agile process (and SCRUM). Our daily standups allow the group to understand what everyone is working on. The time is used to quickly identify and resolve any roadblocks we might have that are keeping us from producing.

I’m not too familiar with sales, but it would seem that there are already project management tools you would likely be using that can be used for visibility and metrics. Heck, if you are a small group and need something simple, Trello can be helpful in creating boards. I’m guessing that in sales, you have something related to “todo”, “doing”, “done”. A tool like this would allow collaboration and visibility.

Anyway, if you have any questions about specifics, drop me a pm.

Cruiser's avatar

@Judi Thanks for the heads up on that!

@hominid Thanks all really good insight and the Trello link looks very interesting. My company is small but growing and I have been in the middle of implementing new technologies to help us process more orders. My Dir of Sales has been central to a lot of our growth and would hate to lose him and this opportunity to continue to have him stay on is something I do need to explore in greater detail.

Judi's avatar

the mechanics of remotely working can always be worked out. Te most important thing is whether or not the employee really has the self discipline to do it.
I worked remotely as a sales manager in the early90’s before computers were commonplace.
I can tell you that I had a real problem with my bed being 10 feet away from my desk. I really needed someone to miss me when I didn’t show up.
Many people have the self discipline to give it 40 hours without supervision. At that time in my life I didn’t. I ended up transferring to the retail division and being a manager in the store.

hominid's avatar

As @Judi describes, remote work is not for everyone. Of course, there are those who need someone standing over them and are unable to motivate themselves. But in my experience, many of those people are not likely to be valuable employees while working in the office.

Also, one of the biggest challenges remote workers find is the inability to put down their work, since there is no commute separating their work from their personal life. I work approximately 2 hours more per day when I work from home. Since I am not commuting to work, I convert that hour towards work. And the second hour usually comes from a combination of a lack of lunch and the inability to stop working.

But I suspect you’ll know fairly quickly what type of worker this guy is.

Cruiser's avatar

@hominid He has at least 3 months or more before he can move so I just met with him and told him starting today we will go into a “simulation” mode where we start to think and work as if his office down the hall was his new home office in CA. I will look towards what we need to get him to log into the new network remotely. I told him we will use the month of March to work out the kinks and then maybe I will let him work from home a few days a week to see if we can make the functionality at least work before the move and by the time he does move we will have a very good feel for not only how we anticipate things to work but actually have a few months of measureable results.

hominid's avatar

^ This is a great idea.

marinelife's avatar

It can work. It depends on the people involved. Is he a dependable producer? Does he work mostly without monitoring now?

If you have access to his sales tool (which you should; it should reside on your servers), you can follow what he is doing that way. Also, he should be providing weekly reports of his activities.

Cruiser's avatar

@marinelife We are just setting up a new network here at the office. He is a very independent worker and the only reason I would consider this. In the 2½ years he has been here he has created a Swiss Watch sales data base and knows and monitors all of our customers orders. He is on salary plus commissions so either he continues to produce orders or he won’t make money nor will this remote sales position last if he is not increasing his sales. The upside is we do a lot of business in CA and to have an actual Salesperson out there could be a real asset for us…another reason I am willing to give this a chance.

Judi's avatar

This sounds like it could be an ideal setup for you both.

Cupcake's avatar

My husband works exclusively from home for his current job. His coworkers (who are also all remote) keep in touch with yahoo instant messenger. They use gotomeeting to share their screens with others. He basically talks on the phone and pings his coworkers on yahoo all day. His company pays for everyone’s high-speed internet and home phone line.

I think he has less flexibility than if he worked in an office in-person. If he showed up to work at 5am because he couldn’t sleep, someone would notice and tell him to go home early. He would eat lunch. He could probably leave the office to bring his sick kid to the doctor without being married to his phone’s yahoo IM app.

GloPro's avatar

If he is on salary plus commission do you expect him to be working 32–40 hours per week? If you have the luxury of seeing him in person now and appreciate his level of productivity then you have to trust that he will produce as much, if not more, in California without having to know for sure how many hours he puts in. When I worked from home or in the field my boss met with me once a month. I asked him how I should make my whereabouts known and he told me that “if [he] was dissatisfied with my performance he would let me know.” Enabling me that way made me want to work hard and prove myself. If your employee is of the same cloth as me, I’d give it a shot. You can always decide it doesn’t work for you later.

jca's avatar

I guess a good place to start is your deciding whether you want him working certain hours, steadily during those times, or any hours he wants as long as he totals a certain number of hours, or does a certain amount of productivity. I know someone who is a travel agent who works from home, for a large corporation (corporate travel) and she has software on her computer that shows when she is present, and she has to notify the computer when she gets up for the bathroom or lunch, and the computer probably measures key strokes or something even if she were not notifying it she is not present. It seems like your employee is not doing work like that. If you like him enough to keep him on, then I say give him a shot.

GoldieAV16's avatar

If you aren’t in the same time zone, you may find he is much more productive in CA. We work out of a home office in CA, and our day starts at 5 am, when business opens on the East Coast, and it ends at 5 pm Pacific Time – three hours after everyone in our East Coast office has gone home. Of course if we’re in the middle of something, or something comes up, it doesn’t end then, either. Sounds like he is that kind of a guy, too.

Cruiser's avatar

@GoldieAV16 We do have a good amount of business on the West Coast and we work here 7am-4pm CST so we close a good 2 hrs before many of our left coast customers and they could benefit from him being still available. Even with East Coast customers, our phones don’t ring much before 8 am anyway. Can only try it out and see how it works.

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