Your nonprofit has been a successful organization for years, but the economy and workforce have forced you to look for even more areas where expenses can be cut. You’ve thought about cutting back on your marketing efforts, but hesitate. You have even looked at every activity your organization does to see if there is anything that can be eliminated. You’ve cut back where you’re able, but still, it’s not enough. To complicate matters further, you may even have staff, volunteers and vendors all over the world.
After all considerations, have you thought about giving staff and volunteers the option to work from home? If you are the traditional type of professional, you may think this sounds crazy. How is giving a “work from home” option going to cut back on operational costs without affecting the overall efficiency of the business? Cost savings may include the reduction of office space, furniture, network bandwidth and in some cases, computers and phone lines.
Benefits of Remote Employees
Additionally, flexible hours and working from home are great benefits to offer to your staff and volunteers. Studies show that having flexibility attracts more candidates and volunteers than compensation does. Working remotely allows employees to have flexible hours, helping not only them but their families as well. It can save commuting time and the expenses associated. Some employees even prove to be more productive when working at home because the distractions of a crowded office or fellow work friends are eliminated.
The challenge is to do it right, in a way that keeps your workforce productive, efficient and happy while having the mechanisms in place to control and protect your mission critical information.
You may be thinking that having every employee in the office for the full workday makes for the most productivity, as collaboration seems easier. However, you may want to consider implementing a web-based electronic document management system, which will allow employees to work from home with the ability to collaborate and immediately access information as if they were right there in the office.
Using Document Management
What is an electronic document management system, and what does it have to do with working from home or remote locations? Many web-based document management systems are applications that provide document imaging, document storage, records retention and business process workflow.
So how would this help them? Here's a couple of simple examples assuming the employee has the permissions needed to access and work within the system. If they receive paper documents they can be scanned and indexed into the system, where they will live, using the key information about the document for fast and easy search and retrieval later.
As they create a document, it will live in the secure system and as they collaborate, the document will be checked out while they edit the document and checked-in when editing is completed allowing the next person to edit. The versions will be maintained in the system. No more worries about who has the latest version stored on their desktop. Each version is maintained and protected but only allowing access to the most recent version.
They can send a message related to the document, or the documents can either be routed on an ad-hoc basis or using pre-defined business process rules. Are you getting the picture?
Now, back to the type of web document management software or application. A solution that is delivered as software as a service means it is accessible through your Internet browser with a secure login and is available as a service/subscription, removing the typical up-front costs of software, hardware and IT resources needed. You can read more on this topic here: SaaS Document Management.
With this kind of system, all business documents and information can be accessible to them with the touch of the keyboard allowing them to work from anywhere, anytime. So, go do a little research, and see how this tool can benefit your organization.
Properly Implement the "Work From Home" Option
Now, we’d like to shift the focus to how to properly handle remote workers. Before allowing your employees to work from home, there are several things that should be considered and reviewed with those employees. When an employee expresses interest in the option, be sure to address these concerns:
1. Is the position compatible with the request to work remotely? What will the impact be on the rest of the staff? If the employee holds an administrative position that generally supports the rest of the staff daily, he or she probably shouldn’t be working from home.
2. Is this employee dependable? Do you trust that he or she will get the expected work done? Has the employee proved him or herself in the past by meeting goals and deadlines?
3. Is the employee able to set up a proper workspace in his or her home office? Can it be properly equipped with all necessary work materials? Computer, phone, scanner, etc.
4. Come up with an arrangement agreed upon by employer and employee that states the hours of the day when the employee must be available by phone, email or even instant messaging.The work from home option has saved many organizations thousands of dollars, while others may find that they do not save much, however, the option can help improve turnover and therefore decreases employee recruitment and training costs.