It’s been quite some time now that some companies have offered their employees the ability to telecommute, but what does that actually mean? What are the pros and cons? If you choose to offer this “perk” up, how do you make sure you’re ready for it? In this blog we’ll summarize all of the above with the help of noobpreneur.com
What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting is an employment arrangement in which the employee works outside of the employer's office. Often this means working from home or at a location close to home, such as a coffee shop, library, or co-working space. (source)
Pros of Telecommuting
Noobpreneur.com [SR3] has compiled a list of pros and cons of telecommuting that we though we’d share:
1. Cost Saving
Smaller offices, not so many parking spaces, less milk etc. There are many costs associated with employees that can reduce when they spend part or all of the week at home.
Offering a talented employee the option to telecommute will stop them looking for another job if they ever need to relocate and make changes due to family considerations.
3. Job Satisfaction
A recent study found that those who telecommute are more satisfied with their jobs than those who spend 40 hours a week in the office.
4. Less Stress Causing Improved Performance
Employees who worked from home reported feeling less stress due to the fact they were no longer exposed to commuting or office politics.
Cons of Telecommuting
1. Collaboration Becomes More Difficult
Some of the best ideas get sparked off during a chat with a colleague at the watercooler or following a casual conversation at your desk. It is incredibly difficult to replicate impromptu moments like these on IM or over the phone.
2. Awareness & Culture Disconnect
There is something incredibly immersive about the work environment. You can learn a lot about your job and the company just by being present, listening to the conversations that go on around you and watching other people at their work. The telecommuter is not part of this environment and will often find themselves one step behind, potentially causing them to feel as though they are not part of the team.
3. Hard to Manage
Whether it is keeping up to date with where a telecommuter is at on a current project or checking productivity and time management, it can be incredibly difficult to monitor the progress of someone who is not frequently present.
Telecommuting is not for everyone, and as an employer it’s incredibly important to ensure that if you are offering up the ability to telecommute, you must ensure that your employees are compatible with this form of working.
Noobpreneur.com has provided benchmark questions that employers should ask when deciding whether or not an employee is capable of telecommuting:
Can the employee communicate well through written channels?
IM and e-mail are normally the primary method of contact for most telecommuters. People who are notorious for blunt or abrasive email communication or silly IM chats may not be the best candidates.
Is the employee well disciplined, organised and are they proven to work well independently?
It is much harder to supervise those who work from home and so you need to have confidence that they will get on with the job.
Does the employee have suitable reasons for wanting to work from home?
Most employees want to telecommute due to family commitments or the need to be in a specific location but here will always be those who will see it as an excuse to take things easy.
Will the employee cope with the isolation?
Despite your best attempts to make your telecommuters feel as though they are part of the team there is a chance that they may feel a little cut off socially. Employees who thrive on the team dynamic may struggle to adapt to the quietness of home working.
There are a lot of factors that you should consider prior implementing telecommuting at your company, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you do decide to move forward keep in mind there should be a trial period to see how employees and you adjust. There should also be periods of time throughout the week that everyone is to be present – this helps boost employee morale and allows you the required in person time that is needed to carry out elements of the job of an employer and employee. Finally, it’s incredibly important to set expectations for those telecommuting and ensure they are met.