Technological changes have made it possible for employees to work from remote locations, instead of making the daily trips to and from the office. This arrangement is known as telecommuting. An employee who telecommutes typically operates from the office about two days a week, and works from home or any other remote location (like the client’s premises) for the remainder of the week. Telecommuting has been touted as one of the few radical changes in management strategy that has brought immense benefits to both the employer and employee as it creates a win-win situation in the workplace. There are five major benefits of telecommuting that employers and workers alike stand to enjoy:
Improved Employee Retention and Attraction
The flexibility offered by telecommuting makes it a very attractive arrangement for employees. About 90% of employees who have had a stint in a position that offered telecommuting opportunities always sought for similar opportunities whenever they found themselves looking for employment elsewhere. Once they land such an opportunity, these workers tend to be more content and are unlikely to exit the organization. The employers have come to appreciate this, and many of them are issuing advertisements in the media for positions with telecommuting option. A look at some of the recent ads featured in the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the Philadelphian Dispatch clearly show that employers are ready to retain employees, even if such employees opt to work from home. Companies have come to realize that they do not have to lose star employees as a result of the employee’s relocation for personal reasons – they can still retain them as telecommuters.
HR experts know that it is quite expensive to train new workers. The HR expert would want to save on this cost by retaining the workers who are already well trained. It benefits the company to offer telecommuting opportunities to employees who desire them, rather than lose the worker altogether.
Telecommuting has been hailed as one of the best mechanisms for engaging and retaining employees with disabilities. Some disabled persons are unable to commute daily, to and from work, and the telecommuting arrangement provide them with the perfect solution.
A case study conducted at the University of Alabama, department of Business studies highlighted that employees and supervisors who telecommute are up to 45% more productive than their counterparts who work from the office. This is attributed to the fact that there is a myriad of interruptions that take place at the office, leading to repeated restarts of any given task. From the seemingly normal visit to the water cooler, to the repeated little stops for chats; the cumulative effect is less work done by the end of the day. Social interactions, though important for the employee’s overall wellbeing, often sap up the time meant for tasks if such interactions are left untethered. On the other hand, telecommuters report more consistency and concentration in the way they carry their tasks from home. The employees tend to be healthier and have better levels of physical and emotional fitness. They are therefore more content and, as a result, make their employers more satisfied with their work.
Uninterrupted Program Continuity.
When it comes to deliverables and deadlines, telecommuting has a way of ensuring that interruptions don not wreak havoc on the company’s programs. There are those external interruptions that are unplanned for but have a way of directly impacting on how the company’s programs are run. These interruptions might result from the weather (heavy snow that impedes travel), sports events (marathon, Olympics, etc.) and even sickness (of self, children or spouse). Such interruptions may interfere with the firm’s output – and this might even lead to loss of clients. However, with the telecommuting arrangement, there is no aspect of any company project that needs to stop. The employee can still proceed as scheduled and comfortably meet all the set deadlines.
Telecommuting is Eco-friendly
With the world opinion leaders pushing for the reduction in the emission of gases that cause global warming, a practice that is part of protecting our environment is a welcome idea. One of the main reasons why telecommuting is readily embraced by many organizations is due to the fact it helps in the reduction of pollution. There is ample evidence to show that reduced travel to and from work, the use of less electricity and office equipment actually leads to a safer, more waste-free environment. Telecommuting is a great way for any company to reduce on the use of pollutants by its employees.
Reduction in Overheads
The research paper on the same case study at the university of Alabama further highlighted that companies stand to save up to 35% on overheads by adopting the telecommuting practice. Employees who work from home do not need a lot of space and equipment at the office. If the company has a good number of telecommuters, it means that the space required will not be much; and as a result, the company will save on rent. Arrangements can be made for office space and furniture to be shared amongst different telecommuters, since none of them will need the facilities on a daily basis. The telecommuter does not even require having a desk fitted with a permanent phone and other facilities, since most of their time is spent out of the office. Indeed, the cost of commuter allowances, fuel allowances and travel allowances will come dramatically down.
From the above key benefits, it is evident that telecommuting is an idea that should be embraced by organizations that would want to enhance productivity as well as improve employee flexibility and sense of freedom. Telecommuting is a good organizational strategy that is guaranteed to improve effectiveness and efficiency.