September 20, 2017
The Two Sides of Telecommuting
Telecommuting has grown exponentially over the last several decades and is more popular now than ever before as employees seek to find more balance between work and their personal lives. In order to achieve, both employees and employers are reinventing what it means to go to work every day.
Technology has made it possible to work from just about anywhere and as such; many employers are providing their employees the opportunity to work remotely. According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Report, released earlier this year, from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of workers who are telecommuting at least part –time has increased by an astronomical 115% in a decade.
Working outside of the office allows employees to have that better work-life balance and often results in more productive and engaged workers who are less stressed and more likely to stay on the job long term. Not to mention that less stressed individuals are typically healthier individuals who take fewer sick days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average commute times in the United States are 25.4 minutes which means workers can free up almost 4.5 hours over a 5-day work week.
Employers also see the savings from flexible scheduling – by allowing an employee to telecommute just part-time companies can save more than $11,000 a year on things like real estate space, office supplies and healthcare costs. It’s important not to forget that telecommuting is also the greenest way to work, reducing the carbon imprint for each non-commuting worker.
On the flip side, there can be challenges such as a loss of boundaries between work and home, a lack of discipline on the employees part – they become unavailable for hours at a time, don’t communicate with co-workers for extended periods or more simply put just aren’t working when they should be. Telecommuting can be disastrous for anyone who is unmotivated or disorganized and some individuals just don’t operate well in isolation. When managers lose the ability to control work and oversee timelines for these individuals things can go downhill quickly.
Remote work, like any work, isn’t for everyone and not everyone wants it. The range of flexible work options is broad so companies should consider the needs of each department and individual roles before electing to offer such a program. Also having clear guidelines and policies on what’s expected from remote workers can help to alleviate any unexpected surprises. Remote work is about working smarter, not harder, making the company and its employees, better.