Making the Case for Telecommuting
According to statistics from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, only 2.6 percent of the U.S. employee workforce considered home their primary place of work in 2013. This low rate may be a result of reluctance on the part of employers to sincerely encourage telecommuting. But are these concerns well-founded? Consider these potential benefits for employers and employees alike:
Enhanced Productivity – Perhaps the single greatest objection to telecommuting from the employer's perspective is the "out of sight, out of mind" concern — the belief is that if employees aren't required to work in an office setting, they probably won't work at all. Some recent studies indicate, to the contrary, that employees actually get more done at home. In a Stanford University study, call center staff working from home increased productivity by 13 percent, and a University of Texas, Austin, study reported that 30 percent of telecommuting respondents worked 5-7 hours more each week than co-workers who remained in the office.
Cost Savings – When employees work from home, businesses may reduce their facilities overhead costs. Depending on the number of employees who work remotely, expenses relating to utilities, janitorial services, office supplies, or even mortgage and lease arrangements may shrink.
Fewer Workplace Distractions – Many employees find that being out of the office enables them to focus more effectively on their jobs. Distractions and interruptions are common in a workplace setting, while a controlled home environment often increases an employee's ability to concentrate on a particular task for a longer period of time.
Boosted Employee Morale – Giving employees the option to work remotely, either on occasion or all the time, may result in higher employee engagement and morale due to factors like:
- Increased opportunities to eat better, exercise, and improve healthy living habits
- More flexibility in meeting family obligations (picking up kids from school, for example)
- No more tiring commutes and stress from traffic delays
According to a study conducted by Staples Advantage, employees permitted to work from home had 25 percent lower stress levels, 73 percent reported better eating habits, and 80 percent claimed to have achieved a better work/life balance.
Improved Recruiting and Retention – Employees who are happy with their job and work arrangements may be less inclined to seek employment elsewhere. Similarly, companies with established telecommuting policies may also be more attractive to job candidates. Plus, employers can broaden their search for qualified prospective employees beyond the immediate vicinity, since proximity to the office may no longer be a factor a candidate needs to consider.
Going Green — Not only can telecommuting save money, boost employee morale, and bolster recruiting efforts, it's a verifiable way of demonstrating your brand's commitment to environmentally friendly policies. When employees no longer have to commute to the office every day — thereby helping reduce pollution levels — your business can legitimately claim a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. This may help make your brand more attractive to job candidates and customers as well.
Given the many potential benefits of implementing a telecommuting policy, it’s not surprising that the practice is growing in popularity; GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com data suggests that teleworking grew nearly 80 percent from 2005-2012 and the telecommuting workforce grew while the total workplace declined during that same period — trends that are only likely to continue as online collaboration technology, such as Web conferencing, advances.