Virtual working benefits

04 February 2021 00:00 by Reneé Caprari

Telecommuting can be good for you and your organisation

By Reneé Caprari

Numerous studies support the notion that telecommuting workers are more productive and have higher morale and less absenteeism. It also shows that organisations that allow telecommuting have less employee turnover.

Employees are not the only ones who benefit from working from home; a company can benefit just as greatly from a remote employee. Telecommuting can limit absences, increase productivity, and save money. With telecommuting the idea of the office space is changing but many are saying that it is for the better.

In most spheres nowadays, most of the work happens on the computer and online. As a result, the location of the person is no longer as important, if they have a reliable Internet connection. In fact, opening the talent pool seems to be one of the biggest employer benefits when it comes to a work from home policy. It is now easy for a company to work with clients from around the globe having a team member in a time zone convenient for communicating with most clients.

Companies might also retain more employees if they enact a work from home benefit. *Stanford University conducted a study to evaluate the benefits of working from home. It was found that workers were more productive, got more done, worked longer hours, took less breaks, and used less sick time than their in-office counterparts. These employees were also happier and quit less than those who went into the office on a regular basis. It stands to reason that, in the end, companies benefit from these remote employees by getting projects completed faster with fewer mistakes.

[*Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment, Nicholas Bloom James Liang John Roberts Zhichun Jenny Ying; Why Working From Home is A Future Technology]

By allowing employees to work remotely, employers can hire the best of the best while not limiting themselves by geographical restrictions. Various studies have shown that remote employees' production rate is higher because they are better equipped to avoid distractions.

The benefits also extend to the bottom line, because telecommuters pay for their own computer, electricity and other utilities.

Caveat: Telecommuting is Not for Everyone
Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon, it is essential to realise that working from home may in certain cases be counterproductive and cause for some companies to rightfully so, revoke their telecommuting programs due to a variety of causes:

a)         they rolled them out too quickly, without really planning them out or selected the wrong people

b)         immaturity of certain staff members, and their lack of desire/ability to focus on work while out of the office.

It is important to note that working from home is not for everyone. It requires the discipline to work independently and manage time effectively.

If you like dressing up for the office, canteen food and corridor talk (must admit, I miss all of the above but only sometimes), remote working may not be for you.

When it comes to a company’s work from home policy, everyone is different. Your productivity and overall success as a remote employee depend entirely on your preferred work style. Anecdotally, it seems to boil down to personality type and the job you do. We are all different, and some of us cannot fathom getting work done with all our comforts of home surrounding us, while others find it a struggle to stay focused among office chatter and other distractions.

It goes without saying that the chances are you are not a candidate for telecommuting if you have people reporting to you or you interact extensively with external clients.

Elvis is Back in the Building!
Yes, they can rein you back in but only for the right reasons and it goes without saying that they must be fair.

Recent research from Global Workplace Analytics, tying in data from various corporate community surveys noted that the cohort of non-self-employed people who telecommute is increasing exponentially. So, why take a perk away unless it is proving to be a problem?

Possibly because you’ve got bigger concerns behind the scenes. It may be that these companies are really struggling to compete at an innovation level with smaller-stage organisations. They’re thinking of every single possible way to reunite people to drive better innovations.

Getting people physically back in the office may be a “calculated risk”, taken to keep up with the younger start-ups that don’t have to move around so much corporate red tape in order to release a product or redesign.

I sincerely hope that companies start to see the benefits and offer more time to their employees to work from home. Trust the process and let go of the fear of abuse and the feeling that there is no oversight. You cannot see what your employee is doing, and that feels like giving up control. All that should matter, though, is that they're getting the work done and done well, is it not?