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Telecommuting

Offering employees alternative workplace arrangements can prove to be beneficial in the working world for both the employer and employee.

There are many factors to take into consideration when making the decision to offer this option. The focus of this type of arrangement is on job performance and meeting operational needs. 

Reasons an employer may want to consider offering this option may be:

  • Great recruiting tool
    Reach work-at-home parents and caregivers, the disabled, retirees, people working in remote areas
     
  • Save hours of commuting time
    Spend more time on completing projects with a higher quality of work in a timely manner
     
  • Environmental issues
    Avoid traffic congestion, parking issues, energy and air quality issues
     
  • Reduce stress and improve morale
    Give employees the flexibility to balance work and family demands-Retention!
     
  • Save office space and reduce cost
     
  • Reduce absenteeism and help maintain operations
In general, telecommuting benefits society in economic, environmental and personal ways, but does that mean it is the right option for an employer to offer? Looking at the nature of work will help determine if this might be reasonable and beneficial.

Jobs that require constant interaction with clients or co-workers to perform effectively are typically not suitable for telecommuting. Jobs that require special equipment that cannot be kept at home would not be suitable. However, the advancement in technology has forged the way for moving the office into the home. Telecommuting should not negatively affect the workload or productivity of coworkers by shifting burdens, creating delays or adding steps to a workflow. 

If the work clearly defines tasks and well understood outcomes, this arrangement could bring measurable results. Supervisors/Managers need to take an active role in communicating in advance what assignments can appropriately be performed at the telecommuting site. There should be constant communication via e-mail or phone throughout the day with telecommuting employees especially when the employee first begins telecommuting. Also, determine metrics that measure success in the role and clearly communicate expectations that define success.  

With the many positive results this option could provide, there also could be drawbacks and concerns. 

Feelings of isolation could emerge from the employee without the interpersonal contact and connectedness and reduce trust amongst co-workers. Employers may feel loss of control with their employees. Even though they communicate, they don't see them and still may have unsettled feelings about what is getting done. Lack of motivation could also result from not having a work climate or supervisor nearby. 

Whether or not this is or is not a current option offered by employers, it does not mean it is something that can't be discussed. With the right rules and guidelines in place, this can be a very effective tool for both parties. It may lead to alternatives beyond working from home like remote office centers or co-working where a group of people who work independently share a common working area. Think of the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space! What about a Jelly? A Jelly is a casual work environment (anywhere) in which everyone is invited. This could be a coffee shop or other public location.

The trend is growing to offer such options. Study results from the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator were published in September and showed that 48% of business managers worldwide work remotely for at least half their working week. Forrester Research's US Telecommuting Forecast reported that 34 million Americans work from home and the number is expected to reach a staggering 63 million or 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2016. Will your employees be counted in this forecasted total?

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For more information, please contact the Fond du Lac Area Human Resources Association at info@fdlac.com.

Disclaimer: The Fond du Lac Area Human Resources Association (“Association”) provides the above information for general purposes only. While the Association attempts to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate, the Association is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the information, or for the results obtained from the use of the information contained herein. All information is provided “as is” with no warranties, express or implied, including warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purposes. The Association provides no guarantee or completeness, accuracy, timeliness, or of the results to be obtained from the use of this information. In no event will the Association, the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce, or either's officers, directors, employees, agents, or insurers be liable to any person for any decision made or action taken in reliance of the information contained herein nor for any incidental, consequential, special, or other damages resulting therefrom, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

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