The city of Třebíč, as part of its strategic development plan, is creating together with its partners the conditions for the establishment and development of enterprises in the city through growth qualification of entrepreneurs, employees and other persons in the labour market. One of the conditions is the project Building Coordination Centre of Telework. The project is subsidized by 95% from the European Social Fund and 5% of the state budget.
The project started on 1st August 2012. The Coordination Centre was established in the Municipal Office Třebíč on Masaryk Square 116/6.The project realization will be ensured by six members of project team: project manager, methodologist, two coordinators, financial manager and administrative assistant. They will promote teleworking with support of methodology, web site, webinars and seminars. The members of the team will be also able to personally discuss and answer your questions about teleworking.
The main objectives of the project are:
The important role in the project has foreign partner, The Telework Association - organization promoting teleworking for more than 20 years. See more on their homepage. The local partner is the Labour office of the Czech Republic, its regional subdivision Jihlava.
The target groups of the project are socially disadvantaged job applicants and employers:
All project activities are aimed at promoting telework and its implementation into working life of the target groups. The centre will educate people from target groups through training and promote telework as a possible way of their work. This will enable them to get or keep their jobs despite their social disadvantage, to succeed on the labour market and to balance their work and personal life.
Project activities for employers include free consultations, seminars, telework handbook and software for supporting the implementation of telework in organization.
There will be also two conferences organized by the realization team. The first one will take place on June 2013.
Visitors of our first conference got opportunity to put a question to our partners from The Telework Associtaion. Here are the questions and the answers.
Telework applies across a wide range of jobs and employers in the UK. It is not just IT companies but many different sectors that have introduced flexible and remote working practices. Wherever there are people doing ‘knowledge work’ there is an opportunity to do some of the job remotely from the office using technology.
We advise employers to introduce teleworking as a business strategy with senior management support. We then expect them to review their management culture to see if it supports remote working. This normally involves training managers on how to set objectives and measure the results so they can delegate responsibility and empower employees to manage their own work patterns.
It is worth starting with a pilot to see how it works and to sort out any initial problems. Then once this is successful it can be rolled out across the organisation. The learning form the pilot can be built into training sessions for managers and employees so they are prepared before making the change.
Teleworking can be implemented across a wide range of businesses. As long as some of the work can be done remotely from other people then telework is possible. Jobs which involve a personal face-to-face service cannot be performed remotely but work that is normally done at a desk in an office is suitable.
The public sector has been one of the leaders in the introduction of teleworking in the UK. Both central and local government have recognised the value of flexible working and are also setting an example for the private sector. There is legislation in the UK that gives employees a right to request flexible working and this is widely used in the public sector. The main barriers are caused by managers who do not wish to let employees work remotely as they do not trust them.
We cannot find any statistics on the number of disabled people who work remotely.
At times of high unemployment employers are able to stick with out-dated work patterns and still keep their staff. These employees may not be happy and may not be working at their most productive but they cannot afford to leave the job. So inefficient management is not exposed. When there is more competition for labour employers introduce more flexible working patterns to attract and retain the best people.
Most telework is carried out by employers who pay their staff in the normal way but just have them performing some of their job remotely. There are not many jobs that can be performed 100% remotely so people still meet up to be allocated work and get direction from management.
Working alone can be isolating. Most people need human contact and their work involves sharing ideas with other people. This is why most teleworking is part-time and people still get to meet others face-to-face.
Managers have to be more disciplined, setting targets and objectives and measuring results. For the lazy manager it is easier to have someone working close to them.
Teamwork can suffer if people are not sitting together. This can be overcome by building in activities to the work routine that encourage people to work in teams.
People who work flexibly are more productive, so the best benefit is more output from the workforce. Also being able to recruit form a wider pool of applicants means an employer can get the best people and have a more diverse workforce.
Employee turnover and absenteeism reduce significantly with employees who are able to manage their work-life balance.
Cost of buildings can be reduced by introducing desk-sharing and the cost of travel can be reduced by using technology to substitute for meetings.
The normal email and office applications that are used in a static job can be used by teleworkers (e.g. Microsoft Outlook and Office). Shared documents can be stored in ‘the cloud’ by using Google Docs or Dropbox. Shared calendars can also be obtained through Google.
For video and audio conferencing there are several options but we suggest you start with Skype and see how well this meets your needs. We use Adobe Connect for webinars and some video meetings but this is not a free service.
So far the government has promoted flexible working as ‘family friendly’ and coupled it with other benefits such as maternity leave. As a result, some conservative employers resist the change as they see it as additional cost to the business. Some leading employers have recently formed the Agile Future Forum (http://www.agilefutureforum.co.uk) which is promoting the benefits for business. The CBI, representing employers and the TUC, representing unions, are promoting flexible working as good for business and employees.
Often the culture in large companies is based on a ‘command and control’ management style which is not supportive of employee freedom. Good implementation of flexible working involves trusting employees and giving them some control over when and where they get the work done. In large companies it is often difficult for an individual manager to go against the current culture and it needs direction from top management to implement a teleworking programme.
When managers can see that flexible working is good for business they become supportive. Too often it is introduced as an HR initiative and seen by managers as an additional administrative burden. By showing them that flexible working employees are more reliable, more productive and more able to respond to customer demands, managers can see the benefits.
Yes, I found it interesting and inspirational. Tim Ferriss is an interesting example of someone who thinks ‘outside the box’ and takes a fresh approach to the way we get our work done.
Working from home does need people to be self-disciplined, to organise their time and be self-motivated. Good employers provide advice and training for employees who are starting to work from home so they are able to work without close supervision.
There are many distractions in the home (but there are also many in the office!). Setting up a routine for days working at home is useful so you have a timetable to work to.
Managers should still be taking an interest in employees working from home and should be in touch often to support people and avoid them feeling ignored.
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