the rise of telecommuting and what it means for your business
The Rise of Telecommuting And What It Means For YourBusinessTelecommuting is increasingly becoming a way of business life. According to the UnitedStates Census Bureau, an estimated 20 to 30 million people work at home at least one day aweek. Worldwide, the numbers are even more impressive. The Citrix Workplace of theFuture survey found that 24 percent of global companies allow their employees to work attimes and locations of their choosing.What are the benefits of this approach?For employees, telecommuting eliminates travel costs and provides a better work/lifebalance. For companies, it lowers employee-related and real estate costs, which can be amajor boon to small businesses that may lack the capital and infrastructure to maintain atraditional office environment. Additionally, telecommuting allows businesses to hire froma wider pool of applicants, including disabled and geographically removed workers.However, working from home also presents a number of unique challenges for bothemployees and employers. Recently, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, revoked her company’slongstanding at-home work option, citing her company’s need to improve employeecollaboration and communication. In a Forrester survey, Virtual Work Environmens in the
Post-Recession Era (PDF), other employers shared Mayer’s concerns, with 49% worriedabout effective communication with remote employees and 43% concerned aboutmanaging projects and deadlines successfully.What Can Employers Do To Minimize Potential Disadvantages From Telecommuting?It’s all about the right employees, the right security and the right project tracking businesstools.The Right EmployeesNot every employee is cut out to be an at-home worker. Most employees have beenconditioned to work in a micromanaged office environment and some may flounder whenworking independently. Julia Drake, Founder and Director of Julia Drake Public Relations,solved this problem by instating a trial period for all possible hires.“I spent about six months to a year with them to make sure they possessed the right workethic and the ability to work independently without a boss breathing down their neck,”Drake said. “It takes ambition, discipline and a passion for what you do. It takes a certaintype of person.”Companies can also have potential employees take personality and behavior tests as part ofthe application process, such as the one at Affintus. These can help determine if anemployee would work better in an office or at-home environment.The Right SecurityThe aforementioned Citrix study also found that 83 percent of businesses allow remoteemployees to use their own devices to access company networks. Additionally, 59 percentof remote workers do not back up company data. This can create a lot of hassle andpotential security risks, especially for small businesses that might have fewer securityprotections in place.To maintain the security of sensitive and critical data, businesses should develop andenforce security best practices and keep employees informed of possible security threats.Additionally, they should keep track of what devices employees are using and what theyare using them for.The Right Project Tracking Business ToolsEmployees often flourish when they are given freedom and flexibility in how and wherethey work. However, that doesn’t mean that businesses should give up their ability tomonitor employee progress. Employers can easily stay in touch with remote employeesthrough email and instant messaging. Company meetings can be conducted through videoconferencing.
Employers would also be well advised to implement software to track employee time forindividual projects. This software should be fully integrated across remote and in-houseworkers, so that employers can view their entire workforce at a glance. This will allowmanagers to effectively manage deadlines and costs for all company projects.Telecommuting seems to be the way of the future, and it offers many benefits for bothemployers and employees. But businesses can only enjoy these benefits if they implementcertain guidelines and securities. If they fail to do so, businesses risk ending up like Yahoo,having to revoke the telecommuting option years down the line.Reference Link: http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/05/telecommuting-business-benefits.html