Gone are the days when “working from home” was a euphemism for skiving off or playing golf. With the increasing use of international teams and conference calls happening at unusual hours you have to trust your employees that they are working even when you can’t see them.
Most people want to do a good job and work the hours required to do so. In the same way that workload ebbs and flows respect the employee for making good decisions on how they spend their time.
With more and more workers away from the home base people rely on instant messengers and cell phones to communicate. The key feature of IM applications is instant, always on communication. To help control access and disruption set your presence accordingly. Most IM applications allow you to create your own presence message. This will help employers, employees and colleagues to see where you are and what you’re doing. Above all respect their presence setting, if it says busy then they are busy so don’t disturb them.
For Blackberry users consider using tools like Iotum’s Talk-Now that extends presence on to mobile handsets.
Employees should remember that cell phones and laptops can always be switched off. Set out the ground rules that allow you to control how and when people can access you, accept that you and your knowledge are assets that your company want to use but ensure that you are clear that it is a partnership and you have the right to a life. Use some of the tools here to create a balance that works for you.