Telecommuting? Here are 5 reasons why you should consider it at your company

Remember when “working” meant that you dressed up in business attire and went to an actual office? Or, if you had a meeting hundreds of miles away, you physically went there?

Technology has changed many of our traditional “working” methods. Today, people work in their homes and in coffee shops, and meet face-to-face with faraway clients using Skype. It’s called remote working or telecommuting.

More and more businesses are embracing the idea of remote working/telecommuting to their employees. But some business owners are still wondering whether or not to allow their employees to work from home. Many are reluctant because it’s not the traditional way of doing things, they don’t think employees will be productive, they believe it will cause communication issues, and they can’t monitor their employees’ every move.

Since these are typical business owner concerns, I put together a list of 5 things that will help calm those nerves (and maybe convince you, too).

1. Draw in more, better talent.

If you need to hire a SQL developer in Small Town, Idaho, chances are it’s going to be hard to find one. Really hard. And if you do find one and they live in NYC, it’s going to be hard to convince them to move to the middle of nowhere. If you’re open to having remote workers on your team, you’re open to a much larger and better talent pool, and not limited to your geographic location. You can hire anyone in the world!

Allowing your employees to have telecommuting privileges also attracts and retains great talent. Studies show that employees really value working from home. In fact, 72% of workers want to be able to work from home regularly.


60% of workers say work/life balance is the #1 reason why they want to be able to work remotely. Companies need to start getting on-board with remote working options because Gen Ys (who will soon take up 75% of the workforce by 2012) value work/life balance more than any other generation, which makes the ability to work remotely a huge selling point for the job.


2. Employees get more work done.

One of the biggest fears business owners have about allowing employees to telecommute is they are afraid they won’t be productive. But in fact, it’s just the opposite. Studies show that on average, employees get interrupted from work at the office every 8 minutes. That’s almost 50 times a day! At home, workers report they are more productive due to fewer distractions/interruptions. According to this survey, 18% of remote workers say they were just as productive, and 61% said they were even more productive working from home than at the office.

Think about it – when you really need to buckle down and get work done, do you go to your office or do you work from home? We’re more productive when we have fewer distractions and interruptions, and at the office, distractions are inevitable.

3. You can still speak face-to-face.

Sometimes people worry that having employees who telecommute will results in less productive meetings. The Evernote team found a way to have in-person meetings between their offices in California and Austin, Texas. How? They set up a video wall in each of the offices. So when they need a to set up a meeting with a coworker hundreds of miles away, they can walk up to the screen/camera and take care of it. Who says you need to take a plane to have and in-person meeting with a colleague in another state?

If you don’t have a fancy video wall, there are tons of great free (and cheap) tools you can use instead. For video meetings, Skype is a winner – and it’s free, or video chatting on iChat is even better if you both have Apple computers. Instead of calling or emailing every time you have a quick question, we like using instant message programs like Campfire and Apple’s iMessage. GChat is also great.

4. It improves communication and processes.

There are some barriers to communicating and figuring out how things will get done with remote staff, and it will take some re-working of your businesses processes and how you communicate. By forcing you to have effective processes and be intentional about how you communicate with your team, it will make your business run better and more effectively in the long run – and those are good things.

5. It makes your business disaster-ready.

Just this year, NATO came to Chicago and the majority of businesses with offices downtown closed because there were massive (and blown out of proportion) security concerns. Some businesses let their employees work from home, but others closed shop for the few days NATO was in town. Chicago was a ghost town.

If you have remote workers and NATO comes to town, the water breaks in your building, or something happens and you can’t come to the office, it won’t interrupt your business like it would for companies that are completely office-based.

 

I chose to write about remote workers because I am one! And it’s one of the reasons I love my job so much, and I promise it’ll make your company that much more attractive to employees.

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Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. This is a great case for telework! Not to mention, telecommuting also gives employers an edge when looking at compensation costs. Potential teleworkers are more likely to be more flexible in compensation when the commuting time and expenses are taken out of the equation!

    • Great point! Though the only counter to that is though you can save on some compensation costs, some employees may ask for things like their home internet & phone bills to be comp’d since they’re being used for work purposes. But if they’re getting more work done, I say it’s more than worth it!

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Marion Thomson says:

    Hi Devan,
    What a great post. As a new company based at home I am planning to recruit in the near future and my staff will likewise work from home. I think it depends very much on the attitude of the individuals involved but with advances in technology so much more is possible nowadays. I love working from home but getting the balance right is important for me with my time split fairly evenly between home, client meetings and networking.
    Marion

    • Absolutely! And bringing on remote workers does mean that there will have to be changes/adjustments to some of your business processes — since you won’t have the face-face communication, you’ll have to find technology workarounds. But there’s so many out there. I wish you the best with your growing business! Thanks for stopping by, Marion.

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