Thanks largely to technology, some businesses have increasingly found it advantageous to allow their employees to work from home.
An analysis, “American Community Survey by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs,” indicates the number of telecommuting employees jumped 159 percent from 2005 to 2017.
In the latter year surveyed, 4.7 million people worked remotely.
We’re not talking about freelancers or self-employed folks; these are employees.
With 7 million unfilled American jobs and with employers tediously coping with a talent shortage, it’s not far-fetched to assume the numbers have increased since then. Many employees love the idea.
But most employers probably aren’t enamored with the idea, especially if they feel they have a lot to lose in their competitive marketplaces.
The minority of companies that allow remote work arrangements usually experience a competitive advantage for recruiting employees and an increase in productivity.
Indeed, “LinkedIn’s 2019 Talent Trends Report,” concludes that flexible work arrangements are increasingly popular with employees. Perhaps surprisingly, telecommuting is most popular with seasoned employees.
The report indicates employers are increasingly participating in the trend.
Of businesses that responded to the report, many indicated they allow at least some part-time work. That includes 72 percent in software/IT, 62 percent in finance, 57 percent in corporate services, 43 percent in healthcare and 43 percent in manufacturing.
Ostensibly, they’re learning that a policy on telecommuting enhances recruiting and that telecommuters are less likely to quit and work harder.
Not to oversimplify, for many businesses and employees there are indeed benefits.
- Cost savings from not having to provide furnishings and work spaces. A telecommuting policy also aids in employing persons with disabilities. All of this ultimately might reduce office rent and utility expenses.
- Telecommuting employees say they’re more productive with fewer interruptions.
- Taking into account their internal clocks, such workers can work at their own schedule – some prefer to work early in the morning – some are night owls. They also like to balance their work duties with their families and running errands.
- Telecommuting workers say they save money and time by not having to commute to the office, and don’t have to unwind from driving in traffic. They don’t take sick leave when they need to run errands or take care of family matters.
- Telecommuting is a tool for employee recruitment and retention. Such employees prefer what they feel is a benefit for them. Sometimes, employees have spouses who are forced to relocate, but telecommuting means the company can retain its employee via telecommuting.
- During inclement weather, telecommuting workers continue to function.
- It aids in the slowing down of global warming, and lessens the use of petroleum.
However, especially in communication, there are disadvantages.
- A telecommuter must heavily rely on technology, but if problems or security issues arise, work goes undone until repairs are made. If a company has large telecommuting staff, repairs are a more costly ordeal.
- Many telecommuters need social interaction and their individual work suffers because of their alienation from being solitary and not having contact with the outside world.
- Teamwork and collaboration is practically non-existent.
- Misinterpretation, especially in sensitive matters, becomes more problematic with a lack of personal interfacing. In-person communication allays the potential for communication problems. Telephoning in such occurrences is an insufficient option.
- Distractions become a problem for workers with families. There is little or no separation from work and life.
- Telecommuting easily leads to longer hours and possible burnout. Family interruptions and worry over missing office developments leads to checking e-mails more frequently.
- Visibility is a problem for both the employer and employee. Face time suffers when a company has employees who are out of sight and out of mind. Employers can’t properly evaluate workers. Conversely, workers lose the advantage of meeting face-to-face with managers and coworkers.
So, whatever you decide, good luck!
From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks:
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Tips to Staff Your Team for Innovation, High Performance — What does it take in human resources for a company to be tops in innovation and high performance? The answer might surprise you.
“People today really value workplace flexibility and remote work because it allows them to focus their energies on work and life as opposed to commuting or other complications due to geography.”