New Survey Shows Businesses Benefit From Telecommuting

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Here’s a bit of news that’s near and dear to my heart… telecommuting from my home office as I do, and have for some time now. Technology makes it possible for me to work in one place and nearly instantly deliver what I do to another place… across the street or across the Atlantic ocean. Who would have ever thought it possible?
Research by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish in 2008 identifies a potential 33 million Americans who have jobs that could be done out of a home office. Current estimates place the number of those who telecommute at 14 million by 2009. Just imagine if we could reach the 33 million mark… the cuts in oil dependence (an estimated 24-48%) alone would be startling. Not to mention the reduction in worrisome greenhouse gases of an estimated 67 million metric tons each year.
According to a report in ASI Central, allowing employees to work from homehas a distinctly positive impact on the bottom line. Over 200 companies in industries that included technology service, manufacturing, health care, education and entertainment responded to the online survey conducted during August and September of this year.
Companies that allow telecommuting save an average of $700,000 per year, according to the surveyconducted by nonprofit trade organization CompTIA. Six in ten respondents noted reduced costs as a benefit… the savings coming from fewer mileage reimbursements and money saved on office space and supplies. Attracting good employees, and keeping them is also improved. Overall surveyed businesses found workers to be more productive and willing to work harder for the employer. 
All good news for these businesses.
But employees benefit too. People tend to be healthier when they stay out of the office, the source of many a nasty virus or cold, especially in winter. The flexibility of telecommuting is often a sought-after inducement for many working parents. What’s more, telecommuters tend to be less stressed by traffic and the hassles of commuting so they are able to focus on the task at hand. 
But before you approach your boss (or your staff) about telecommuting, there are drawbacks. There’s a sense of isolation that comes with working outside the office… you aren’t there for lunch or impromptu meetings in the hallway. Employees who can’t do work at home may be resentful of your privileges… and bosses might expect 24/7 access. Sometimes a lack of visibility in a traditional office setting can impact an employees prospects for advancement.
Of the respondents to the CompTIA survey, 75% said they allow at least some telecommuting. Most businesses attribute the increased efficiency to eliminated travel time in getting to the office. Seventeen percent of respondents also mentioned the “green” benefits. Saving gas… saving travel expenses and reducing each employees carbon footprint.
“With ‘anywhere’ connectivity, faster broadband options and high-quality video and online conferencing choices, the opportunity for virtual offices is greater today and more affordable for businesses of all sizes and types,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer of CompTIA.
Certainly technology has made it possible… terrorist events have made us all think twice about long distance travel… environmental concerns press in on us so that telecommuting (or the more appropriate teleworking) is growing more popular all the time. So is it for you?
You’ll need to evaluate the practicality of having employees work from home for some part of their workweek. Can the job be done remotely? Will quality or service be affected? Workers need less office space but they will likely need some expensive technology, and the ability (not to mention the patience) to use it. Sometimes managing teleworkers can be a challenge… an often bumpy adjustment that takes time and patience on both sides. 
The good news is that if you can see your way to make teleworking a part of your business… you’ll see the benefits and so will your employees!
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