For some companies, telecommuting can be a beneficial option. In a telecommuting arrangement, you use telecommunications technology in place of the commute back and forth to the office. It usually involves working from home, although it might also mean using a satellite office. There are many advantages to telecommuting, provided that you don’t have obstacles to telecommuting at your business.

 
Advantages for the Employee
 
According to the Families and Work Institute, nearly half of American workers either already do at least some of their work from home or wish they had the flexibility to do so. Providing the option to work away from the office can be a great benefit to employees. It lets them eliminate the daily commute, which on average consumes 4 hours each week. Over the course of a full year, that works out to almost six full workweeks of 40 hours they would spend in traffic, time given neither to your business nor to their own lives. Telecommuting also allows them to work around other tasks for the day, without being confined to the 9-to-5 mentality. If someone is a night owl, they have the ability to set aside later times for work, while morning people can likewise schedule their work for the times they are most effective. Flexible scheduling with telecommuting lets workers do their jobs at the times that work best for them, not just between set office hours.
 
Advantages for the Employer
 
Telecommuting also offers a set of advantages to employers, not just to the employees themselves.
 
  • First, having workers telecommute reduces the amount of office space you need; this saves you money by allowing you to condense down to fit just the employees you need working at the office.
  • Second, telecommuting expands your geographic range. You’re able to hire employees that live far from your actual location, people who might be great workers and assets to your business, but who don’t want to spend the money to relocate to your area.
  • Also, studies have demonstrated an increase in productivity from telecommuting employees. In a survey by AT&T of Fortune 1000 telemanagers, 58% reported increased productivity.
  • Finally, offering telecommuting options can help you retain employees. Many employees surveyed say they would change jobs if they were offered a position with a more flexible work schedule. Employees appreciate the flexibility to be at home when they need to, and companies have found that telecommuters take less sick leave than other workers, because they can work their schedule around staying at home rather than just dropping everything altogether when they’re needed at home.
 
General Benefits
 
Telecommuting has other benefits, beyond those for the employees and employers in the arrangement. First, telecommuting means that fewer people are in rush hour traffic, easing some congestion for those workers who are on the roads to the office. During the 1996 Olympics, famously, many companies in Atlanta encouraged employees to telecommute to avoid the increased traffic from the games; after the Olympics ended, companies found that it worked so well they kept the policies in place. From an environmental standpoint, fewer cars travelling to work in the morning and home in the afternoon improves air quality by reducing emissions.
 
In the right situation, telecommuting can be a great option that provides advantages to everyone involved. Be sure you’ve thought through all the risks of telecommuting, though, and have a well-thought out plan before you initiate any policies. Make sure your workers fully understand the policy, and your business could benefit from increasing employee flexibility.
 
Do you let any of your employees work from home? How has it changed things for both you and your workers?
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Angela Cordle
Angela Cordle is the EVP of Tarkenton Financial, a leading insurance marketing firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, she serves as the Human Resources Director, overseeing the provision of HR services, policies, and programs for the company. She also serves as a BizCoachingOnDemand.com consultant, bringing practical and experiential knowledge of HR best practices to small businesses.

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