When is Telecommuting a Good Idea?
Rising fuel prices have lead many potential employees to only search for jobs within a short distance from their home, and others have begun to reconsider the commute to their current office. Telecommuting, also called teleworking, can be a major saver for companies who allow employees to work from home instead of coming into the office. However, it isn’t a perfect fit in every situation.
Telecommuting doesn’t have to be full-time. In the National Technology Readiness Survey conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Excellence in Service showed most employees would prefer to come into the office at least some of the time — less than half of those surveyed would prefer to telework more than two days per week, and 14 percent would prefer to not telecommute at all.
Is allowing employees to telecommute right for your company? Consider the benefits and the drawbacks before pitching the idea to your company and its employees.
Benefits of Telecommuting
- Offering telecommuting even could attract better talent to your company. A survey by the New York-based Hudson Group found that 59 percent of the people surveyed said that it would be ideal to be able to telecommute a few days a week and come into the office the rest. However, only 23 percent surveyed had that option at their current employer.
- Giving employees the option to telecommute gives them more control over their budget.
- The National Technology Readiness Survey estimated that about $3.9 billion could be saved if every employee with the option to telecommute did so 1.6 days per week. That estimate was based on a fuel price of $2.89 per gallon with a 20-mile commute.
- According to Human Resource Executive Online, telecommuting can also reduce office real-estate costs and it can act as a retention and attraction tool.
- Studies have shown employees who telecommute are up to 22 percent more productive than office workers, as reported in HREO. Employees were also reported to put in more hours when working from home.
- Many companies chose to offer their best employees the telework option because they have already proven they are reliable.
Drawbacks of Telecommuting
- Telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers than their peers in the office, especially for senior-level jobs, according to a Staffing Industry Analysts report from 2007.
- Employees with poor performance records will likely not excel through telework either.
- Frequent communication from managers is needed to ensure employees working from home are on track with meeting their goals. If clear objectives aren’t outlined at the beginning of a project, it can be difficult for teleworkers to perform well.
- No visual contact with employees can be a challenge for managers, and they may require additional training to effectively work with teleworkers.
- Finding the right mix of in-office and telecommuting time may take time and may not be perfect for every employee.
- Working from home may mean employees need to take their work computers home or have proprietary programs installed on their home computer, depending on the work they need to complete.
Telework is not a perfect match for every employee or every department, but the cost savings and flexibility may prove worthwhile.
The information provided in this blog is intended for general information purposes only. Readers should seek the help of an HR professional for guidance on specific issues.