While every company or organization is different, our experience has identified certain action items that greatly increase the probability of success for almost any telecommuting program. The following will give you an idea of what it takes -- from start to finish -- to get a telecommuting program up and running and to maintain it on an ongoing basis.

1) Identify Your Goals and Objectives
In order to gain maximum benefit from a telecommuting program, you should establish specific goals and objectives. These goals and objectives give you a basis for designing your program and provide a benchmark against which to measure its success.

2) Appoint a Telecommuting Coordinator -- a "Champion"
Any successful company-wide initiative such as telecommuting needs a champion to promote the program and coordinate all related activities.

3) Create a Telecommuting Committee
Your program affects managers and other employees throughout your organization. Make sure their viewpoints are represented on your committee, because you'll need their input and buy-in. But try to keep the committee to a manageable size -- 8 to 15 members at most.

4) Analyze your Telephony and Technology Needs and Costs
You need to know what equipment and technology you have in place -- and what else you may need -- to enable off-site work. Armed with that knowledge, you'll be able to seek cost estimates for the technological components of your telecommuting program.

5) Draft Telecommuting Policies and Teleworker Agreements
Telecommuting is a privilege, not a right, and the first priority must be to meet your business needs. Create written policies that specify the roles, responsibilities and requirements for employer and employee alike. Managers and telecommuting employees need to agree on the terms and conditions under which employees are allowed to telecommute and how the off-site work will be evaluated. Such agreements should be in writing.

6) Secure Senior Management Buy-in For a telecommuting program to succeed, you need support for the program from the top down.

7) Run a Pilot Program Before going full speed ahead, test each element of the program with a subset of telecommuting employees and their managers or supervisors. Use the information gained in the pilot to refine the program before you roll it out company-wide.

8) Train Managers and Telecommuting Employees
Telecommuting involves new ways of doing things. Therefore, managers and teleworkers need to be properly trained in order for your program to work.

9) Get the Word Out to Your Employees Telecommuting is here and it's working. Don't keep it a secret. Communicate regularly with all employees about the program's successes.

10) Ongoing Evaluation & Support
You must constantly evaluate your telecommuting program -- including tracking the costs and benefits. Then you can fine-tune and look for ways to improve.

Telecommute CT! is ready to help you successfully complete each of the 10 steps described above -- free of charge. All you have to do is contact us.