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Has Your Org Experienced Benefits from Letting Staff Work Remotely?

Has Your Org Experienced Benefits from Letting Staff Work Remotely?

  • Do you have staff who telecommute some of the time? Have you been able to measure the impact on expenses, productivity, and the environment? Share what policies and tools have worked for your organization.


    Shabnam Sigman, Managing Editor,

  • I've been a remote worker for a year now and love it. My productivity is way higher than when I was in an office, and I am able to use tools like Skype, basecamp, and Google docs to operate in real time with my colleagues.

    Not sure I'd call it telecommuting though! I use my phone for work less than once a week!

  • I really hope that organizations that work with staff working from home will respond. I've heard from many people who are telecommuting regarding their experiences, but rarely from organizations - and never nonprofits - that are involving telecommuters.

    I telecommute, and I am frequently frustrated at the misconception of some of my nonprofit clients - and those I'm hoping to turn into clients - regarding the time it takes to get work done, something that doesn't seem to happen when I'm onsite. It doesn't matter what report or other product I've produced in a week or a month and shared on Googledocs, or that we've had video conferences on Skype once a week about what I'm doing, etc.  

    The most successful way I've found to counter this misconception, as well as to not have clients balk at the end of the month when I turn in my hours, is to summarize my activities twice a day, every day worked, in an email - once after lunch and once after I sign off for the day. Which is something I wouldn't have to do if I was in the office down the hall.

    Then it can become a real struggle to get them to actually read those emails - I know in about five minutes into a video conference if anything I've shared has been reviewed. Some video conferences take much longer than they normally should, as I wait for the person to go back and try to read a week's worth of email before we proceed further. Which, of course, does not lead to improved productivity... working with others online means being prepared to meet in a way that, perhaps, isn't necessary offline.

    So in addition to hearing from nonprofits about improved productivity and what not, I would also like to hear from them about how they ensure telecommuting staff aren't ignored, and how they build their own onsite staff understanding about what the offsite staff person is doing (and how long their work takes!).

  • Our 501(c)3 is fully remote based. I work from my office and communicate with our Directors, partners and clients via Skype, our distance learning classroom, email and phone. We serve a large geographic region and my Board decided years ago that a) paying an office expense, b) mileage and c) time expended on the road was a waste of resources and time.

    With gas now over $4 - our approach is being lauded rather than questioned.

    The upside is we get a tremendous amount of work done. The downside is getting people to use Skype and there still is a need to see the face of the person you're talking to? It certainly has made my life easier as I have some health issues that make driving difficult. And it's our access to information , resources and contacts that defines what we do - which is 90% online.

  • Yes. I manage a group of virtual workers from different parts of the world. It did save me a lot of office and other costs. We just try to maintain that office like work environment.

    For our tools, we use Skype for chat, Basecamp and Google Docs for communication and collaboration, and more importantly Time Doctor for time tracking and task management.

    I've been doing this for more than 3 years. Everything is doing good.