6 essential tools IT needs to give telecommuters

Getting users set up to telecommute is one way IT departments can help their companies recruit and retain people, as well as save money for employees and the organization. 

The Telework Research Network estimates companies can save $10,000 a year for every employee who telecommutes half the time, factoring in increased productivity, reduced facilities costs and lower absenteeism and turnover.

Also, as companies begin hiring again, they’ll need a low-cost benefit to attract and retain employees — and telecommuting is likely to be a popular one.

If and when your IT department is asked to support more remote workers, here are six essential tools you’ll need to provide to make telecommuters as productive as possible, according to a blog post by tech expert Mark Gibbs:

  1. Remote library access — Many telecommuters will need to access shared documents so they can collaborate with their co-workers. That means they’ll need a method to access those files securely, and in a way that allows access to be tracked.
  2. Communication tools that play nicely together — If telecommuters use their home computers, IT will need to make sure they have the software they need — and that includes essential communication applications such as email clients that can be used in conjunction with what their co-workers have.
  3. Videoconferencing — If someone works from home full-time, videoconferencing capabilities can help them get something close to face-to-face communication.
  4. Training — Users also must be able to use all the tools they’re given, which means they need the right amount of education. Also, many users — especially those that aren’t computer savvy — could also probably use some extra general IT training to help them survive while they’re away from the IT department.
  5. Tracking of technology use — Of course, there’s no reason to pay for technology if remote workers find they don’t need and don’t use it. That’s why it’s important to have some way to track what’s actually being used so the company doesn’t pay for unneeded licenses.
  6. Testing — The telecommuting infrastructure should be regularly tested to avoid shut-downs while remote workers are on critical deadlines.