Due to COVID-19 major companies have started paying attention to the idea of telecommuting (April 2020).
Questetra has been actively employing telework for several years and I work at home most of my workdays. In this article, I would like to think about the necessary elements for practicing telecommuting from the standpoint of a teleworker.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Telecommuting
According to a survey by Japanese internet provider Biglobe, 63.7% of respondents answered that not commuting means less stress and more time to use for other activities, while 22.7% of respondents said that they can spend more time with their family. It’s true that telework, which allows people to work at home, makes it easy to balance housework and childcare. Moreover, it’s a great system for people who have chronic diseases and have difficulty commuting.
On the other hand, many companies accordingly worry about the attendance management of their employees.
I used to telecommute at another company which required me to be on Google Hangouts Meet at all times during work hours. The administrator was constantly checking to see whether the teleworkers were really working. However, sometimes I felt like I was being monitored by the administrator and I didn’t like that. I think Google Meet can be a great way to telecommute depending on how you use it, so I’ll talk about this later.
Attendance Management with BPM tools
In Questetra, for attendance management, a BPM tool named Questetra BPM Suite is used, where teleworkers simply post the message that they have started work on Open Chat (a sort of internal and team chat tool), and at the end of that day they report what they’ve done for the day using a workflow.
Moreover, with an «@» mark like Twitter, you can post a comment to an individual or you can post a message to the entire company. For example, in a business report, when a member submits a business report in a system that is built according to a workflow, the content is automatically posted in Open Chat. This makes what they have done obvious, and also allows a leader to check the tasks they handled against the business report.
A well-built system where tasks can proceed along the workflow defines the job instruction and a report of assigned work in advance, which achieves simple time management and operational management. Needless to say, BPM tools are essential.
A possible Method for Web Conferencing
If BPM tools are used in the ways mentioned, most desk jobs can be handled by telecommuting, but what about conferences and meetings?
By the way, Questetra is willing to reduce fruitless conferences and meetings. Regular reporting meetings and meetings with people outside the company are done online (meetings with people outside the company will be held at a designated booth).
When I joined the company, I was surprised to see staff sitting at their desks, looking at monitors and talking, but I think this is logical considering that there are participants from far away. If you want to learn more about the practices of web conferencing you can check out the following article.
( As 8-year Users of a Web Conferencing, We will Answer Anything about Hangouts Meet )
What are Essential Elements for Telecommuting?
Ultimately, I’m wondering what is necessary for telecommuting?
I think the ability to work as well as I do when I’m at the office is especially important. Although the environments at home and in the office are different, it’s important for you to have the ability to work in the same way no matter where you are, especially if you are allowed to work at home. For example, if your way of working changes depending on your environment it’s hard for other staff to deal with.
Incidentally, Questetra BPM Suite is a cloud-based service that allows you to access the same system wherever the Internet is available. So you can work at home, on a business trip, or while using public transportation as if you were working at the office. It’s surely important to create a smooth environment for telecommuting with chat tools and web conferencing, but it’s also necessary to reinforce the versatility of a workplace when building these business processes.
For example, if an operation requires paper-based approval from a supervisor, then your workplace is limited. However, if the introduction of telecommuting can make the application and approval process paperless and electronic with workflows, it will lead to more operational efficiency and improvement. At least, you will be able to avoid going to the office to get a seal for formal documents from the supervisor.
When introducing a telecommuting system for the first time, both managers and staff members may be confused. However, BPM tools make arrangements and management of operations easy, as described above, if you can use them efficiently. Cloud-based workflows can be installed quickly and easily because they reduce the cost of implementation.
If you install BPM tools when introducing telecommuting, and notice problems or points for improvement of your operations, you have an opportunity to turn some disadvantages into advantages.