If you ask employees what they think about telecommuting you get glowing reviews.
Employers (and small business owners in particular) are less sold on the idea. But it turns out that telecommuting is often a win-win situation with advantages for employers as well as employees.
The success of a telecommuting arrangement is largely predicated on mutually-agreeable ground rules. If the employee sees telecommuting as a way to watch TV in his pajamas all day, the arrangement will inevitably end in disaster. On the other hand, if the employer expects his telecommuting employee to be available for work-related issues at all hours of the day and night, the arrangement can be equally problematic.
But if you are careful to communicate your expectations to your employees, your can receive several benefits from employees who telecommute.
- Employee productivity. Study after study has shown that the vast majority of telecommuting employees experience higher levels of productivity than they did when they worked in a 9-to-5 office environment. Telecommuters typically invest more time and focus on their jobs, partly because they are no longer exposed to lengthy commutes and office distractions.
- Hiring options. In most small businesses, the logistics of hiring an out-of-town employee is cost prohibitive. Telecommuting expands your hiring base by enabling you to employ individuals without consideration of their geographic location. A geographically diverse staff can actually be beneficial in helping you expand your business into new territories.
- Less office space. Office space isn't getting any cheaper these days. By allowing a portion of your staff to telecommute, you can significantly reduce your space requirements. If telecommuters are expected to periodically work in the office, you can still save money by coordinating schedules to take advantage of shared office space.
- Staff continuity. Dual income families have become the norm in the American labor force. When a spouse is transferred or takes a new job in a different city, the other spouse follows. Instead of losing the investment you've made when an employee's spouse is transferred, telecommuting allows you to continue the employment relationship and ensure continuity in your staff.
- Worker satisfaction. There's no denying the fact that workers love telecommuting. Satisfied employees do a better job on a more consistent basis. Even better, job satisfaction often translates into fewer compensation demands and longer terms of employment.