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How to Spot a Slacking Telecommuter

  • How to Spot a Telecommuting SlackerThe Find: Allowing your team to work from home could keep morale up and save them a little money, but doing so without raising your anxiety levels means knowing how to spot who's taking advantage of your flexibility.
  • The Source: 11 tips for spotting slackers from HR World.
The Takeaway: Sure you're a modern manager with appreciation for your employees' difficult work-life balancing act, but no one likes to be taken for a fool. So how do you know your experiments with ROWE aren't being used as a blank check to catch up on the latest in daytime TV? HR World has some tips for catching slackers. Some are painfully obvious (productivity falls; they don't take your calls/ respond to your IMs), but others are more counter-intuitive and worth a look, including:
  • Heads up for tech savvy cheats: a typical automated email response is a snap to identify, but a handful of specialized programs, such as Expect, allow savvy users to set up a variety of mechanized answers to emails and IMs in order to disguise their absence.
  • They'd rather enter data into spreadsheets than take on large projects: telecommuters who are reluctant to work on a time-intensive project are probably preoccupied with dirty laundry and vacuuming and are looking for a way to disguise this by performing mindless, repetitive tasks. Assign seemingly unmotivated remote workers a large (but perhaps not mission-critical) project with a tight deadline to keep them in check.
  • They don't take vacation days: telecommuters will probably take less time off than on-site staff since they can run short errands and nurse minor illnesses easier than their commuting peers. But be suspicious if remote workers never go on vacation.
  • They complain about their workload: managers should take employee concerns about arduous workloads seriously, but if you've given a supposedly overworked telecommuter less to do and you're still hearing complaints, be suspicious. Your employee might be whining because he or she doesn't want to do any work.
For those considering whether to work from home, BNET offers this handy guide to weighing the pros and cons of working from home. Or, if you're the one managing remotely, try this video in which Sun Microsystem's "chief green evangelist," Dave Douglas, talks about how the company successfully managed telecommuting to actually boost productivity.

The Question: True or false: most employees will take advantage of an offer to telecommute?

(Image of man who does not work by CarbonNYC, CC 2.0)

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