According to the Census Bureau, telecommuters in the United States are on the rise. The same goes for other countries around the world such as India, Indonesia and Mexico. Before you make the decision to implement a partial or complete telecommuting option for your employees, there are a few things you should know. In this article we’ll explain the benefits, disadvantages and other information you should we aware of about telecommuting. The success of both your company and employees depends on a correctly implemented telecommuting system. So, is telecommuting right for your company?
The advantages of telecommuting
Telecommuting has a number of advantages for not only your employees, but your company too.
For starters, studies show that employees who telecommute at least once a week are generally happier. This makes absolute sense since telecommuters experience a number of benefits from working remotely.
First, these employees experience a better work & personal life balance. When it comes to situations like, “the cable guy is coming at 2, " telecommuters can easily manage that scenario without having to take a half day off of work.
It also gives employees a large amount of flexibility. Employees now have the opportunity to work when it’s best for them and when they’re most productive. You’re a night owl? No problem. Work when you’re most engaged.
And what’s a commute? Telecommuters are a lot happier because they’re saving money and time on their normal commute into the office. Sitting in traffic is proven to have an impact on employee moral. That’s not an issue with telecommuters.
Companies, don’t worry. There are benefits for you, too. Depending on the amount of time your employees spend telecommuting, you may be able to cut costs. You can save money by moving into a smaller workspace that's large enough to accommodate your in-house employees.
You may have concerns about an employee’s ability to actually work at home. But studies show that employees actually work longer and harder without normal office distractions. Unlike an office that closes, a home office is always open. Telecommuters are shown to answer more emails and even take on extra work during their time off.
The disadvantages of telecommuting
However, there are some important disadvantages to telecommuting that your company and employees should be aware of.
One unfortunate study shows that employees who telecommute are less likely to be put up for or receive a promotion. However, most believe this is due to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and not a lack of initiative on the employee’s end.
Working from home also eliminates the social aspect of work. There’s no gathering around the water cooler talking about the latest awards show. This can make it hard to create lasting personal or work relationships with your coworkers, leading them to feel lonely.
For supervisors working remotely, they may find it hard to communicate with and manage their teams effectively. Just because you’re used to a specific way of managing a team doesn’t mean there aren’t other options out there. There is technology and software dedicated to this. It’s an issue that will be perfected and managed with time.
Remote employees may also experience issues with others in their households. It can be hard to stick to a schedule and truly differentiate between personal time and work time when others in your household affect your work.
But these disadvantages can be easily addressed and fixed. By initiating a telecommuting program that takes place a few days a week, you can experience the benefits of working remote without the disadvantages that go along with it.
Other important information
Your employees should be realistic about their work habits. Are they self-disciplined? Will they miss the social interactions? Do they have the equipment and space they need? Any employee considering full-time or partial telecommuting should fully understand what to expect.
If your company is still on the fence about implementing a telecommuting program, try an incentive based program first. Employees who meet and exceed goals can be rewarded with telecommuting opportunities. This keeps your employees motivated and focused on work.
More and more technology and software is becoming telecommuting-friendly. The Cloud has really opened up the market for this. You can now save documents and run programs right over the Internet. A lot of companies create their products with this in mind. For example, call center software is available completely over the Internet. You can even effectively manage remote employees by utilizing quality assurance tools such as reporting, live monitoring and call recording.
It’s easy to see why so many companies around the world are implementing telecommuting programs. The advantages are hard to ignore! Both your employees and company will benefit by implementing a well thought out telecommuting plan.