With cloud services and advanced business systems, it has never been easier and more practical and profitable for businesses to promote telecommuting than it is right now. Virtual teams and remote workers are becoming the norm for some companies and according to 2011 data from Statistics Canada, 11.2 per cent of staff work from home for as little as 8 hours a week. And that number is on the rise as recent reports estimate that by 2016, 43 per cent of employees will be teleworkers.
Telecommuting essentially is when an employee works at a location that is not the main office or your actual business facility. This can often be, but isn’t always, a home office. For an effective “work from home” scenario, both human and technological factors have to come together with the right independent, self-motivated employee enabled by new communication technologies and tools like high speed internet, voicemail, mobile devices and advanced phone systems.
So what’s the benefit of having remote workers in your workforce? Well, it can be positive not only from an employee standpoint but also your business’ bottom line. Here’s how:
Employees are happier. By avoiding long commutes and having more quality time with family and at home, telecommuting workers often report high job satisfaction from the flexible work environment. This can help retention and saves your company in the long run as satisfied employees are less likely to look for new jobs and there’s low turnover. Some studies even show that people would choose to work from home over a pay raise.
Find hard-to-find skills and in-demand employees globally. Instead of losing a valued employee to relocation or some life change that requires they live elsewhere, companies can use telework to continue to work with that employee. In job searching it can also cast a wider net for human talent worldwide, not just limited to a geographical location.
Productivity increases, profits increase. Instead of a typical office environment which can be rife with distractions like colleagues dropping in, meetings, impromptu social gatherings, telecommuting employees can simply focus on the task at hand. Instead of filling time, they can be more results-driven and thus, the quality of work delivered is often higher. Keep in mind this is dependent on the employee’s level of self-discipline and abilities.
Overhead cost savings. A remote worker can save your company money in many ways. Not only do they use their own space and equipment but they can help you lower expenses related to office space, parking, office supplies and incidentals like coffee. It is estimated that a typical business that allows remote workers can save on average $11,000 annually. Apparently, 4.3 million Canadians who have suitable jobs and want to work from their home office could save Canadian businesses a total of $53 billion each year.
Telework is eco-friendly. By not commuting, remote workers are being more environmentally friendly and helping your company to lower its eco-footprint. Some reports say that if just 40 percent of the U.S. population that have telecommuting-friendly positions were able to work from home even half the time, the country would save more $650 billion dollars annually, reduce oil consumption by about 280 million barrels of oil a year and reduce greenhouse gases that is the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road each year!
Technology makes telecommuting possible
Everything from cloud-based collaborative resources to social media, messaging apps, Skype and mobile tools help employers to stay in constant communication with their remote staff.
Good Virtual Private Network (VPN) software also allows workers to access their employer’s secure networks and data and files without being in the office. It is important to note that with telecommuting more prevalent, data security is a big focus as unsecured devices and wireless networks can be a threat.
Teleconferencing and video programs can help facilitate dialogue and connect geographically disconnected teams for brainstorming and collaboration as if they were in the same room. And advanced mobile technology means employees can even do the work from their phones and that makes the areas where telecommuting is possible, even wider. A trend in telecommuting is that we’re seeing it increasingly used in a company’s emergency response plan. Because if staff is already set up and enabled to work from home, operations at the business can continue unimpeded in the event of unforeseen events like severe weather.
With all this being said, telecommuting can be useful for your company if you are looking for costs savings, flexible work arrangements that can boost employee morale and provide staff with a better work-life balance.