For a long time I felt strongly about the importance of working on-site. I was sure information is shared casually between employees and that relationships are built that are crucial to efficiency, productivity and success. While I still see these as key issues, I’ve come around to see they can be accomplished for some employees, remotely, and if used productively can produce a bevy of other benefits.
The primary benefit for you, the owner of the company, is that a “Telecommuting Policy” can be a key business strategy to help you attract top talent, retain staff, increase productivity and save money.
You will instantly and vastly increase your candidate pool. Based on the latest Telework Research Network data, only about 2% of the US workforce considers home their primary place of employment. That isn't a big number, especially considering the number of jobs that can be done remotely. World at Work and Robert Half studies show about 40% (or 50 million) of people who don’t telecommute say they have jobs they thought they could perform from home. Over the next five years this number will grow. Recruiting is in the numbers and the numbers are in telecommuting - you’re much more likely to find your complete dream team by being open to remote working options.
Telecommuting itself might increase productivity. 86% of telecommuters say they are more productive in their home office than at work. Over 75% said they were willing to work more hours - mostly because they save time and money by not commuting. Many excellent employees already have had some experience working remotely. Past employers knew their skills and were happy to trade off location to keep them on-board. Often, these employees are accustomed to making it work well, to building relationships, and delivering results. They anticipate typical roadblocks and use remote tools (Skype, Instant message, conference calls) and often introduce improved project management and group communication tools (i.e. IRC group chat, Yammer, Campfire).
Telecommuting could likely help you retain your top performers. Telecommuters report they eat healthier, are less stressed and have a drastically improved work/life balance. More than 75% say they are more loyal. Thankful for the flexibility and do prove their value, remote workers strive harder to deliver high performance. Beyond performance, the telecommuting trend needs to be embraced just to attract and retain staff. 72% of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another, and almost 40% specifically mention telecommuting. Gen Y'ers are notably difficult to recruit and retain and are particularly attracted to flexible work arrangements.
Many companies have concerns that telecommuting arrangements will lead to higher costs - but that need not be the case. A vast majority of employees are willing to take on the expenses of getting their own office furniture, equipment and supplies. This doesn’t include the savings you have with less folks on the premises (less office space, fewer phone lines and phones, facility costs, etc....).
Even with increased travel expenses to have remote employees on-site for project kick-offs or regularly scheduled meetings you might save money in the final analysis.
Telecommuting is a corporate strategy that will separate the winners from the losers when it comes to employee attraction and RETENTION. It’s a trend that is not going away; it’s only getting more convenient and productive for all parties.
Do you and your team have the skills needed to manage and leverage this type of worker? Can you envision a current or open position that you are looking for that could be done remotely? If you’re already telecommuting with some employees, is the program expandable to others you might have overlooked?
Don’t be late to the party!