The Boss is Telecommuting, and it’s Good for the Business

Telecommuting

“Begin with the end in mind.” Dr. Stephen R. Covey offers a great perspective for developing an effective long-term business plan. It takes time and there is plenty to consider. Your ideas and plans will evolve, and if retirement is on the horizon you may be starting to focus more on what you want from your business.

One challenge many top executives face is balancing work with family relationships. Workload, time, logistics – depending on what needs adjusting will determine your options. For example, you want to maintain your role in the organization, but you also want to move closer to the grandchildren. Working remotely just might be an alternative.

In 2009, Forrester Research’s U.S. Telecommuting Forecast reported that 34 million Americans worked from home and that by 2016, that number is expected to grow to 63 million. Further to that, a Census Bureau report released in March 2013 reported that 25 percent of those working remotely are in the fields of business, management and finance.

5 Reasons Why CEOs Should Work From Home

  1. Create a sustainable business. As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to create a sustainable corporate culture. The elements of that culture incorporate trust and accountability. When you perfect the art of working remotely, you demonstrate you have the right people and processes in place that makes for a sustainable business.
  2. Improve focus. You are passionate about your business and sometimes may take on too much. Having some distance allows you to focus on values, vision, and strategy, leaving daily operations to your team.
  3. Improve creativity. Solitude can be very conducive to creating and learning. That will be much easier to accomplish without the day-to-day grind at the office.
  4. Improve your work-life balance. Instead of spending time in the car, you can spend more of it with your family – maybe even go for a bike ride on your lunch break. More freedom means more fun and that can add years to your life.
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  6. Save money. If you find the new arrangement works for you, it may be a culture worth incorporating through the rest of your company. Using less office space, supplies, and power will save you money and help the environment. That was the case in a recent study conducted by Ctrip, which in an effort to reduce occupancy costs found its employees that worked from home completed 13.5% more calls for its travel planning business.

The success of working remotely isn’t for everyone or every company. It depends on a number of things, such as: the nature of your work, feasibility with partners, and the dynamics and skills of your team. However, recognizing that owners looking to eventually sell a business, working remotely clearly demonstrates that you have put the right people and processes in place, that an acquirer can count on maintaining sales and profitability.

If you do decide to embrace the lifestyle change of working remotely, there are a few key ways to make the transition a little easier:

  • Start slowly. If possible, work into your new schedule gradually. You might start with one or two days a month and increase it over a period of months or even years, depending on your situation. Equip your office away from the office with all the capabilities you need to be effective from the start.
  • Communicate often. Communication is paramount for any business at any time. Connecting frequently through the day via phone, FaceTime, Skype, email or Google Apps will make the distance seem less apparent and keep everyone in the loop.
  • Be Clear on roles and expectations. Some responsibilities may shift with other executives and staff and you may need to adjust processes or procedures to accommodate your physical absence. Ensure that everyone is aware of the changes and expectations to keep operations going smoothly.

During your next business plan review, ask yourself if you have adequately developed your team in a way that should you decide to sell the business, you have created the value necessary to garner a maximum value. The ultimate test of which is proven when you can spend more time away from the office and find that everything hummed along without you being there. And, if that is not the concern today, consider that this may be the best protection for you in the event of a disability or for your family should you no longer be able to manage the business.