By Matt Doyle, VP and Co-Founder of Excel Builders

More businesses than ever before are allowing employees to work from home. This always comes with risks, but the benefits are clear. Any company that can easily transition employees between working at the office and working at home can save a lot of money on floor space (often the largest business expense), office supplies and electricity. 

Those are some of the reasons my home-construction business has focused on making this process as efficient as possible. 

We often need help from consultants, designers, drafters and other types of specialized vendors. Depending on the size of the project, more people may be involved than can fit at our offices. Even permanent employees may need to work remotely on-site during stages of a building project.

Here are five steps that can be used to manage the transition without missing a beat.

1. Speak to the employee first.

Some employees will jump at the chance to work from home, but others have circumstances that can make that almost impossible. 

For example, employees who are currently raising infants and toddlers may not be able to fully isolate themselves for deep creative tasks like drafting blueprints. Some employees may simply have no area in their home that is fit for an office.

Working from home is not a transition that every employee (or every role) can make. Trying to move the employee without working with them can be a disaster for both of you.

It’s also important that you leave time enough time to make the switch work.

2. Allow a few weeks’ notice.

I promise you, the first few times that you move someone to work from home, you will miss important details. Some details that can be easily missed or misunderstood include:

  • The need for supplies that are only in the office (more on that next).
  • The need for closer collaboration with departments or personnel.
  • The limits of apps designed to aid in collaboration.

Providing more time will allow for more of these problems to be avoided. A couple of weeks’ preparation will allow most employees to track how they’re completing all of the tasks that come up and the resources that may be necessary.

Managing resources is the next key way to make remote work possible.

3. Audit tasks to determine what role office supplies play.

Certain roles require resources such as advanced/industrial printers, specially crafted tools or records that can only be accessed from designated workstations. 

Letting someone work from home can turn a process that takes a few minutes in the office into one that can’t be done until another day. That is why it is so important that you track how employees interact with office resources before you send them to work from home.

The most effective way to do this is to have the employee make a note of the resources they are using throughout their workday. If this is done for a couple of weeks, nearly every critical resource can be identified.

You can build solutions from there. There are a lot of ways around limitations. For example, you can schedule certain tasks to take place only on days the employee is in the office.

4. Freshly define expectations and standards.

Routines develop in offices, and those routines may be reliant on habits in the office. If you want a smooth transition, you need to freshly define what you expect from your employee and how you want them to deliver.

These new expectations should be based around the limitations of working from home and what that might mean. For example, rather than handing completed work to a supervisor, an employee would need to know how to communicate/deliver through a chosen app.

How should they do that, and how long should it take them? Do they need to move up deadlines so that other remote employees have more time to review them? These are all issues that you must work through.

5. Start with flex time.

If you have the time to spare, it’s always a safer bet to experiment with flexible office-home hours rather than jump to a total transition. This will allow you to more accurately assess how long it takes to complete tasks and what resources you need to provide.

That’s all the steps. It may sound like a lot, but you’ll notice that most of them can be performed without interrupting a single workday. Taking 15 minutes to make notes throughout the day for a couple of weeks can save months of wasted time. 

Matt Doyle is the VP and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.