With the use of technology on the rise, many companies are beginning to realize the benefits of allowing employees to work remotely. This may not be possible for every worker within every company, but it is a strategy many companies, spanning a variety of industries, have found useful.
According to employee engagement research conducted by Gallup, the ability to work remotely corresponds directly with higher engagement. That being said, this is primarily true among workers who spend less than 20 percent of their working time in a remote setting.
And if not handled properly, telecommuting can be rife with abuses, miscommunication and resentment.
There used to be a time when telecommuting was looked down upon, as companies wanted to keep an eye on workers at all times. However, things have changed as of late with more and more employers considering the benefits.
According to an article published in March 2014 by The New York Times, telecommuting is growing at a fast rate. Here is an excerpt from the piece:
"Telecommuting has risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers, according to statistics from the American Community Survey. That includes full-time employees who work from home for someone other than themselves at least half the time."
From the employee side, the benefits of working from home are easy to see:
Save money on gas
More freedom and flexibility
And that is just the start!
Now, let's take a look at benefits from the employer's point of view:
Limit absences. Let's face it: employees tend to call off from time to time, citing everything from an illness to inclement weather as the reason. With a telecommuting arrangement, these types of "excuses" don't come into play nearly as often.
Increase productivity. Rather than discuss this point in greater detail, this article by the Harvard Business Review says it all. Many studies have shown that employees are more productive when working from home.
Save money. Can you think of any better reason for letting employees telecommute? There are many ways to save money with this work arrangement, including the option to use a smaller office space.
It is easy to believe that employees are the only ones that benefit from working at home, but companies of all sizes can do the same.
3 Ways to Make Working from Home...Work
It is one thing to say that this will be beneficial to your business, but another thing entirely to ensure that this happens. Here are three tips to consider:
1. Make it known upfront that remote workers will be held to the same standards. In other words, nothing will change, outside the work environment, when working in a remote setting.
2. Take full advantage of technology. Many years ago, working from home meant spending many hours a day on the phone. On top of this, sending and receiving faxes and snail mail was all the rage.
In today's day and age, things have changed quite a bit. Now, remote workers can connect with others in a number of ways. For example, instant messaging programs with a focus on corporate communication, such as Brosix and Novell, make it simple for workers to communicate in a secure and efficient environment.
Note: these types of programs have features for work collaboration, such as video chat, screen sharing and chat rooms.
3. Continue to experiment with new ideas. What works today may not work tomorrow. And what works tomorrow may not work next year. Technology is always changing, and every company needs to keep this in mind as they look for the best system for remote collaboration.
Not only is it possible to collaborate working remotely, but many thrive when put in this position.