Employees love it because it lets them eliminate lengthy commutes and work from the comfort of their own homes. As an employer, it gives you a unique tool for boosting worker satisfaction and retaining talented staff resources.
But telecommuting isn't always a bed of roses. There are several employer-related disadvantages involved with allowing employees to work from their homes. Although most of the disadvantages can be neutralized with upfront planning, it's important to understand the potential downsides before you give the green light to a telecommuting arrangement in your workplace.
- Lack of oversight. Employers are often concerned that telecommuting will limit their ability to supervise their workers. For sure, trust is an essential ingredient in telecommuting. But even though the vast majority of telecommuters experience higher productivity levels, you should be aware of the fact that a small percentage of workers use telecommuting as an opportunity to slack off.
- Poor communication. Telecommuters and their employers sometimes find that a work-from-home arrangement handicaps their ability to stay in touch, especially if they have different expectations about what constitutes healthy communication. Communication should always be an issue that is addressed ahead of time, preferably in a signed, telecommuter agreement.
- Disengagement. When a worker participates in the daily rhythms of an office environment, a certain amount of corporate culture and personality is bound to rub off. But when that same worker fulfills his obligations from a remote location, he can quickly become disengaged from the life of the business. As much as possible, try to incorporate face-to-face meetings into your company's telecommuting policies.
- Stalled advancement. Right or wrong, there's a common perception that telecommuters aren't interested in advancing their careers. Clearly, it's difficult for telecommuters to advance into supervisory or managerial roles. If you have invested in an employee based on the idea that he will eventually assume larger roles in the business, telecommuting can be a difficult pill to swallow.
- Possible legal risk. In the scope of time, telecommuting is a recent development on the business landscape. The legal community is scrambling to flesh out the legal ramifications, including the liability issues involved with telecommuters who are injured while working from home.