Phoning It In
The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting.
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When Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer announced an end of her company’s practice of telecommuting, a lively public discussion followed. Would Mayer’s decision help make Yahoo more competitive? Was the decision too severe? Is Yahoo’s situation similar to your company’s?
As commute times and gasoline prices increase, you may wonder if Telecommuting is right for your business. It’s not a simple question. And every business is unique. As with most things, there are benefits and drawbacks. So, let’s take a look at some of the issues involved.
For the Company
For the Company, the pros really boil down to productivity and possible reduction of overhead expenses. It has been estimated that employees who telecommute increase their productivity as much as 20%.* Employee retention may be increased. And employee absenteeism (sick days) is also reduced. And having less employees on-site, means less resources being consumed at the office. Companies may even be able to reduce their real estate footprint.
For Employees, there are a number benefits of telecommuting. More time and less stress from sitting in traffic. Less wear and tear on an employee’s automobile. Less money spent on fuel, tolls, or train fares. Some employees may also benefit from a more flexible schedule that better fits the demands of family life. This all feeds back to the benefit of the company – where a happy relaxed employee is a productive employee. Additionally, there may be tax benefits for the employee working at home – consult a tax professional.
For Society in General
Some general benefits of Telecommuting include less traffic accidents, less injuries and fatalities. That’s always good. Than there is less hours lost traveling. Less physical stress on the nation’s highway infrastructure. Less gasoline consumed. Less oil imported, and less greenhouse gas emissions.
For the Company
There are could to be some downsides of having a Telecommuting workforce. For one, there is less structure, less routine and perhaps less supervision of employees. Be sure to establish and communicate a clear set of expectations, goals, and review. Regular status meetings and comprehensive project management are both important is important. Some employees thrive in the more structured office environment. Some might be more productive working remotely. Management will need to make clear and perhaps difficult decisions about who is permitted to Telecommute, who is not, and why.
For the Employees
Employees who work from home may experience feelings of isolation and being out of the loop. There may be a lack of synergy and creativity within the company because people are no longer face to face. The good thing is, as technology has improved, Telecommuters are nearly every bit as connected and ‘present’ as their peers in the office.
Technical Issues to Consider
Connectivity is what makes telecommuting possible. And while Internet and email and wireless access are a given these days, offsite employees will also need access to company server networks, and perhaps even their office desktop computer. Offsite employees should be able to communicate seamlessly with one another as well as with their office-bound peers. Teleconferencing, Web conferencing and video conferencing are all capabilities that need to be considered. And details about phone plans and expenses will need to be ironed out.
Security is another issue that companies need to consider when thinking about telecommuting. Offsite employees could unintentionally present risks to their company’s data and servers. Therefore a comprehensive security plan should be implemented to protect the company and all employees – offsite or onsite. Likewise data that is stored offsite should be backed up just as routinely as data stored onsite.
While many Telecommuters will be technically savvy, there could still be a considerable learning curve for somebody who is getting set up for their first time. Hardware and software standards need to be clearly identified by the company. And training may need to be provided by the company in order to ensure that all employees are operating at the same level.
How TDO can help****
So, given all of these factors, if Telecommuting is something that would benefit your company, TDO can help you get started. TDO knows Telecommuting. Our employees have been doing it for years. TDO will consult with you to identify your telecommuting goals. We can implement the best technical solutions for your business. Once your telecommuting program has been successfully introduced, TDO can continue to provide ongoing technical support. Need to expand and add more offsite employees? Not a problem, TDO can do that for you.
Telecommuting doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing commitment. You might have employees working remotely part of the time – a couple days a week. Or you might only have 25% of your staff working remotely. The point is, you can implement a Telecommuting plan that works for your employees and for your company.
*Telecommuting Information for Managers
Career Coach: “The pros and cons of telecommuting” by Joyce E. A. Russell
“How Telecommuting Works” by Tim Crosby