A few decades ago, working from your home may have seemed to be far from reality, like a distant dream. Now, it is not that big a deal. Telecommuting has taken over the business world by storm. In the United States alone, a whopping 3.7 million employees work from home at least half of the time. That clearly shows how companies are accepting telecommuting as a formal work channel.
When we talk about work, most people have a mental picture of sitting in a physical workplace and interacting with colleagues or superiors in person. The concept of telecommuting is still nascent, and you may find yourself wondering whether it will work for your organization.
The good news is that remote work will have a positive impact. In fact, a two-year study conducted by Stanford University revealed that the majority of employees experienced much higher productivity levels when they were allowed to work remotely. This means higher bottom-line results for any type of organization, along with a highly motivated and engaged workforce – a true win-win situation!
How Does Telecommuting Work?
The concept of telecommuting is still alien to many organizations. So, let’s throw some light on this emerging trend. Telecommuting is also known as working from home, remote work, or e- commuting. It is a unique work arrangement where an employee does not come to the physical office location, rather works from home or any other convenient location. They may choose to work from any place – a coffee shop, library, or any co-working space.
Employees keep in touch with other team members and managers through the telephone and email. They may even choose to go to the office location in regular time intervals to collaborate with other team members and give an update about their progress. A well-designed remote work program can ensure that an employee does not feel out of sync with the parent organization, and enable maximum productivity in a flexible manner.
Is Telecommuting A Good Option for Your Company?
While everyone has heard about telecommuting and is aware of the rise of remote work, most modern organizations are still extremely skeptical about adopting it as a formal job arrangement. They have a preconceived mindset that employees who are not at the office location are not putting in their full effort, and will not deliver end results. Here are some potential pitfalls and drawbacks that prevent employers from implementing telecommuting in their organizations:
Lesser Degree of Control: It is difficult to micromanage employees when they are not physically present. Many times, senior managers feel helpless as they cannot give instructions or demonstrate how a job has to be performed. However, this can be avoided by clearly laying our performance benchmarks and holding regular contact sessions (even virtually) with remote workers.
- Chance For Production Loss: This is the one disadvantage of telecommuting that employers fear the most – they assume that employees who are working at their own pace will not be productive enough. While this may be true for certain demotivated and inefficient workers, a majority of the workforce remains highly productive if given a chance to work remotely.
- Data Security Concerns: Many times, companies do not promote remote work because they are not comfortable with employees accessing sensitive data on their personal laptops, computers, or mobile phones. Organizations fear that there may be data leaks that may cause serious trouble legally. This situation can be avoided by training remote workers to remain careful about security by using encryption, passwords, and user control access measures.
- Risk of Isolation: Remote workers do not feel connected to the main physical organization. They do not share any work relationships with colleagues, superiors, or peers, and this may tend them to experience isolation. It is important for organizations to maintain regular contact with employees who telecommute so that they establish genuine bonds with their co-workers.
- Poor Communication: It is difficult for remote workers to communicate in a seamless manner with their team members. This may lead to errors, miscommunication, and impact morale levels. However, with the advent of digital supremacy and sophisticated tools such as VoIP phone systems, it is easy for telecommuters to share real-time data and stay connected with their colleagues.
In the current age of the talent crunch, it is essential for organizations to keep their workers happy and help them work comfortably. Telecommuting has a ton of diverse advantages, here are some that will definitely work for any kind of organization:
- Better Work-Life Balance: Employees are nowadays looking for flexible work arrangements that allow them a better quality of life. With an alarming rate of burn-out and environment stressors, it is absolutely vital for organizations to provide healthy job options such as work from home or telecommuting. This gives them full autonomy to work as they desire, and removes the pressure of going to the physical office location, every single day.
- Reduced Turnover: No organization wants to lose their talented staff members to rival firms. In order to retain your valued employees, it is important to understand their requirements and provide them with the freedom of telecommuting. Remote workers are often more satisfied with their workplace policies than their in-office counterparts. Hence, they are less likely to leave the organization or look out for more lucrative options in the market. Employees leaving a business organization is a very costly proposition, so to avoid the cycle of new hiring and training, companies need to move towards flexible work options.
- Higher Morale: An engaged workforce will be willing to go the extra mile to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Companies need to understand that employees who telecommute or work from home are able to enjoy a more stable work-life balance. Hence, they feel motivated to put in their best, and also keep the work environment happy and stress-free. So, it is a good idea for organizations to promote telecommuting and remote work to keep a positive office culture where worker satisfaction is of the utmost importance.
- More Productivity: One of the most common issues that employers have against remote work is that employees will slack off and not be able to achieve performance parameters. However, that is far from the truth as studies have shown that telecommuters are actually far more productive than their in-office colleagues. People who work remotely enjoy additional autonomy and have the flexibility to plan their work schedules according to their pace. They also have an added responsibility of living up to expectations and delivering long term results for the parent organization.
- Eco-Friendly: One aspect of traditional work that employees dread the most is the commute to office location. For environment conscious organizations that are making an effort to take eco-friendly measures, telecommuting is a great option. Employees do not have to use their own transport for long distances, and this goes a long way in reducing hazardous emissions. People who work from their own or any other private location also use less paper, supplies, and office equipment, thus reducing the dependence on precious resources.
Telecommuting can make a world of positive difference by bringing about a culture change at your organization. Weigh the pros and cons of this flexible work arrangement before deciding to adopt it in the long run. Make sure to have a clear set of rules, fix work timings for remote workers, and have a seamless communication structure to prevent any confusion.
Telecommuting is not just a passing trend – it is here to stick around. It is important for companies to integrate remote work arrangements into their human resource policies. Your employees are your greatest asset – keep them happy by providing them with remote work or telecommuting options. Identify which job roles can be conducted easily outside the office setup and get started. It will be the best decision for your organization that will result in higher productivity and increased bottom-line profits in all important fields!