But if you're lucky, nothing untoward will happen until a bunch of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are well on their way to requiring surgery.
3. Don't require a separate home office -- leave it up to the employee
Being a benign sort of manager, you certainly don't want to come across as coercive. This is a benefit, after all. If an employee wants to work at the kitchen table, why should you object? It's a free country.
And when, eventually, an important client or a highly placed executive is on the phone with a telecommuting employee and hears a dog barking in the background or a child's voice whining, "Why can't you play with me, Daddy?" -- in fact, you never actually said you thought telecommuting was a good idea, did you?
4. Make mobile phones the work-at-home standard
If the employee has to add a second landline for their home office, they might expect you to pay for it. But everyone has a cell phone already, don't they?
Here's the dirty secret of mobile phones: They add as much as a 300-millisecond delay. Cell-to-cell calls have twice that, or more than a half-second wait between the time one person starts to talk and the other person hears them.
The best part: Nobody knows this. All they know is that the other person frequently interrupts them. It's a constant, subtle irritation. People will dislike working with telecommuters, and they won't even know why.
5. If you're converting an in-office employee to a remote worker, make sure the employee has to cover all home office costs
You'll be a budget hero. The company will save all ongoing expenses for the space telecommuters would otherwise need in the office, which is easily $5,000 a year each if you total everything up.
And because it's the employee's out-of-pocket expense, many will cheap out on such niceties as a decent chair or a real desk. This can help ensure a healthy crop of RSI complaints, among other benefits.
If you're really good, you'll also keep the help desk in the dark about your plans, to make sure it isn't in a position to support large numbers of out-of-office employees.
If you're even better, you'll choose a VPN technology that relies on static IP addresses or is otherwise fragile, to make sure employees can't connect to the corporate network reliably. This shouldn't be difficult, because just about all of the VPN technologies you have to choose from are ... well, let's just say they're far from what they should be.
6. Pilot telecommuting with marginal employees first
Telecommuting is a risk. You don't want to expose your best employees during the proof of concept, so best to try it with the ones who slack off even when they're in their cubicles.
It's well known among those who have managed telecommuters that strong employees become even more productive, while already weak ones become even worse.
Even better, start with jobs for which it's hard to tell if employees are doing anything useful or not -- jobs that aren't defined in terms of just a few, clearly identified work products.
At the end of the trial period, it will be clear the telecommuters failed to pull their weight.