What facilities should an employer provide for telecommuters when they are in the office?
This is an increasingly common question - but it's a challenge because
of the built-in contradiction. When a company takes away employees'
individual space, it's not always easy to then make those same employees
"feel welcome and part of the team." The first thing you can do is to look
at the full range of options for making your mobile workers feel welcome;
some of this is based on the physical setting, but you should also consider
more mundane (but still important) factors such as making sure they get
their mail, are invited to department/company meetings and social
functions, and continue to be treated the same as employees who remain in
the office full-time.
The space the telecommuters use for their "drop-in" time should be inviting
- that is, it should look comfortable and pleasant, and not like a
nondescript public place that is cold and impersonal. Make sure there's
storage room available for coats, briefcases, and so on, as well as access
to amenities such as refreshments, photocopiers, office supplies, fax
machines, etc. Try to provide a variety of seating areas - some for more
private individual work, some for groups of two or three people to
converse, and some conferencing area for small groups.
Last, consider all the things you can do to help keep these mobile workers
feeling part of the team. Be sure they are kept informed about company
announcements, given a chance to participate in training classes or special
projects, and invited to sit on committees or task forces. Just because
they are out of the office doesn't mean they have to be out of touch.