Telework is a growing trend and thanks to cheap and efficient internet-based technology of the last few years, the 9-5 communal office is not always the most beneficial way to get maximum productivity from your staff. Both employers and employees alike are seeing the benefit of working from home rather than insisting on the office-based environment. For employees with disabilities, telework could be beneficial and practical for all parties concerned.
Introducing the possibility for your employees to work from home can be hugely beneficial to your business but you will need a clear plan of how it might work. Logistically, there is a lot to think about and thankfully, there are already clearly defined programmes, presently working in the real world, which allows businesses to diversify to home-working employees. One of the best-known systems is the Results Only Work Environment or ROWE.
So what is ROWE and how does it work? In a move designed to reward productivity rather than hours worked, ROWE seeks to encourage managers to think about achievable goals for their department and for individual employees. The number and pattern of hours worked is irrelevant – this is about agreed achievable targets. Through it, businesses no longer need to work on the minutiae of their employees, merely their output. It seems to be working – ask clothing retailer GAP who fully embraced the method in 2008.
Telework is ideally suited to the ROWE method for its philosophy of working practice and patterns. The benefits for both employers and employees include:
- A focus on performance and targets leads to greater efficiency during a working day. Neither employee nor employer is watching the clock. The employee can use their own judgement on when to start and stop work and to take necessary breaks
- Employees who work from home and use the ROWE method report higher levels of job satisfaction from the flexible nature of the work pattern – set hours are a thing of the past, so long as scheduled tasks get done on time
- It builds trust between the employer and employee. Never underestimate the greater satisfaction that employees get from greater autonomy and accountability
- The employee will develop a greater understanding of the importance of business targets – why a certain project is vital to the company or why this target must be reached by the end of the month
Employees can be recognised and rewarded for measurable results
Have you heard of ROWE or seen it in practice before? What do you think of it? Leave us a comment below and we can start a conversation about it.
Despite the fact that one in four Australians have a disability of some description, the employment statistics are shocking! 54% participate in the workforce compared to 84% of the general population. Telework, or working from home, provides a number of benefits to those who are able and willing to work but are restricted by a disability. Here are some great reasons why telework is going to totally change employment participation for people with a disability.
- Accessibility – Access to the building of a place of work and transport are the biggest barriers to the employment of people with disabilities
- Based on other studies from around the world, telework will increase disability employment levels anywhere from 3,230 (for those will a mild disability) to 14,868 (inclusive of all people with a disability in Australia)
- 9% of all people with a disability who are able to work identified flexible working hours as a major barrier – telework permits flexible hours
- A similar percentage identified transport as the biggest barrier – telework negates the travelling associated with most work
- A massive 66% of people not presently employed due to disability said they would take up a job if telework was an option
- Independent living modifications will already be present in the home – the environment will be suitable for their particular disability
- Technology necessary for a home offices is no longer cost-prohibitive – VoiP and Cloud technology makes for easy file sharing and communication
- A lack of flexible working hours is also a barrier to carers – a telework arrangement will help them work and remain focused on their caring commitments
- The Commonwealth Bank of Australia piloted a telework test scheme and calculated a 27% increase in productivity
- It’s good for morale too – over 70% of all employees who had used a telework option said they were happier in their jobs
- This in turn means your employees are less likely to leave. Replacing them can be expensive
- Geographical location need no longer be a barrier to employment
- Telework will allow people with disability to engage more fully in employment, productivity will increase and employees will overall be far happier in their jobs
Do you have any more reasons why telework is awesome, or even a personal story? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!
We have some very exciting news here at Enabled Employment, we have been accepted into the GRIFFIN Accelerator! This is HUGE news for us and means we will have some big employers on board very soon!
About the GRIFFIN Accelerator
The GRIFFIN Accelerator is a start-up accelerator in Canberra, Australia. Once a year entrepreneurs are invited to apply for a place in the 3+3 program for the opportunity to validate their idea, develop networks and fine-tune their business model.
The GRIFFIN Accelerator model is unique: shortlisted applicants will gain access to a 3 month program with $25,000 for customer validation activities, in return for 10% equity. At the end of this 3 month block, a select number of Griffin start-ups will be invited to continue for another 3 month intensive program with an additional $25,000 instalment for a further 5% equity. The core agenda is to form and support new innovative companies; providing a structured high growth path so start-ups exit the program with an investible proposition or revenue generation.
The GRIFFIN Accelerator, Canberra, draws experience from a pool of mentors, each with entrepreneurial experience, skills and experience in the government sector, or a significant technology industry network. GRIFFIN mentors get involved. They provide sage advice and get their hands dirty when projects need a boost. A mentor is married to each project, acting like a case manager to ensure the participants are headed in the right direction.
If you would like to know more out the Griffin Accelerator you can visit their website.
So keeping in the theme of our our last two blog posts, I'm sure you're all wondering how much does it cost to set up a home office?
Hardware technology for a home office is no longer as restrictive as it once used to be. With telework growing, it is quite clear that the cost of purchasing all necessary equipment is accessible to far more people. So, what might you need and how much will it cost?
- Furniture – whether you use a laptop or desktop, you are going to need a suitable desk and chair. A basic computer desk with storage compartments and a shelf for a keyboard will start from around $130. A sofa chair, dining chair or high chair of a breakfast bar will not be good for posture. A good adjustable office chair starts from around $30
- Internet – you will need access to the internet for telework – a home office simply cannot survive without it. There are a range of deals available in Australia – a typical 70GB monthly package will cost in the region of $50 per month
- Computer – Your most basic piece of equipment. A desktop or laptop will be a matter of personal taste but a laptop will be cheaper and you can carry it around. A desktop may be more comfortable for the extended periods of use. Entry level price $400
- Printer – You may or may not need one of these depending on your work. Multi-function devices (printer, scanner photocopier) are most popular these days. Starting price $150
- Telephone – these are relatively cheap but as a homeworker you may get lots of phone calls so a model with a built in answerphone may be preferable here. Starting price $50
There’s so much freely available technology and no need to invest in expensive packages:
- VOiP – Skype, Jitsi, VSee and Google Hangouts all offer a range of phone and video call options, video conferencing and text based communication (IM). All are suitable for the home worker
- Office software – There’s no need to invest in the latest MS Office package when LibreOffice, OpenOffice and NeoOffice are useful emulators and even use Microsoft formats so you needn’t worry about incompatibility with others
- Sharing –Google Docs and Zoho Docs are both free. Evernote allows you to grab web pages, images, audio clips, to make lists and share them across multiple devices and people instantly
- Multimedia – Paint.Net and GIMP are superb open source versions of Paint Shop and Photoshop
Do you know of any other great free products you can use in the office? Leave us a comment below with all of your ideas, I'd love to hear from you.
Setting up a home office may seem simple, but it is easy to overlook some of the most fundamental requirements that would be second nature when working in an office. Before embarking on working from home you need to make sure that your working environment is safe, comfortable and suitable for your individual needs.
The working conditions of the place where you work can be easily overlooked. The room needs to be light but minimising glare. Working by a window might give you maximum light but it is inadvisable to work in direct sunlight as this will lead to eye strain – as will too much shadow.
Room temperature is also a factor. In an office workplace, an employer is legally obliged to keep a room above a certain temperature. Within your home, you naturally want to be comfortable so do not overlook that a room might be too warm or too cold for you to work effectively.
Both the chair and the desk must be adjustable for personal comfort. People are of different builds and heights and there will be different opinions on personal comfort within the boundaries of what is deemed a healthy environment.
If you are primarily using a laptop, you might need a stand to raise the screen to a more comfortable level; any extended period of use of a laptop will also require a mouse.
It is very important to take (typically 15 minutes out of a two hour period should be spent away from the screen). This does not just mean coffee breaks or lunch breaks, but also the need to mix up tasks within the working day; it is easy for work-from-home employees to lose track of time or to skip these breaks to get a task finished, especially when not conforming to a regular working-day format.
When it comes to laptops, these are designed primarily for short periods of working time. As well as the above mentioned stand and the need for a mouse, you will need to ensure that the table or desk you place it on is suitable. For a laptop especially and because of the potential greater strains on the body, it is necessary to take frequent short breaks away from the computer – this is also vital purely to keep active. It might be a good idea to work your exercise routine into your day. This means that you will need to work out a clear structure to your working day.
Distractions are the major problem with teleworking. You are always tempted to have that lie-in, to meet your friend for coffee, to have an extended lunch break to do household chores, to visit your parents, to check your social media, check your emails… and if you have children then your day is going to have to work around them. What you need is a structure to your working day and week. Make a plan of your weekly tasks, use a database or a spreadsheet to plan how long each task takes and whether they have deadlines.
If you live alone you are going to be working in isolation most of the time. Humans are social creatures and need interaction. Ideally, you could work social plans into your daily pattern. Certainly arrange to meet friends for coffee but set yourself a target of what you are going to achieve before you leave the house, or what you are going to do to “make up the time”. Strike the balance between work and play but do not let distractions consume you.
Is there anything you think I've missed? Leave me a comment below.