Could misconceptions and outdated stereotypes be holding your business back from the benefits of teleworking programs? With teleworkers making up over a quarter of the workforce, it may pay for business leaders to take a closer look at the realities of teleworking, the benefits it can provide, and strategies they can employ to make the most of their telecommuting employees.
One of the biggest concerns many employers have about teleworking is a perceived lack of accountability. They fear productivity will drop when an employee is free from oversight by co-workers or management. Actually, the statistics say the opposite. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity from their telecommuters, even surging as much as 43% higher than in-house levels. This increased productivity is attributed to a lack of workplace distractions, flexible work hours and zero commuter time – reports say up to 60% of commuter time could be reallocated to work time.
Increased productivity is not the only benefit a remote office provides. Companies can greatly reduce the overhead costs associated with having employees working in an office by allowing their employees to work from home. IBM has reported that they have saved $50 million in real estate costs, and Nortel estimates they save $100,000 per employee on relocation costs because of flexible workplace policies.
The work/life flexibility afforded by teleworking increases employee satisfaction, decreases unscheduled absences and sick time, and increases employee retention. Two-thirds of the American workforce say they would like to work from home, and 36% say they would choose the ability to do so over a pay raise if given the choice. A full 80% say they consider teleworking to be a job perk. Many teleworkers also continue to work while being sick and return to work more quickly after a medical break. A flexible schedule also lets employees run errands or attend appointments without having to take a full day off, actually increasing the amount of time the employee is working. As the cost of hiring and training a new employee can be as high as $10,000 to $30,000, it is in the best interest of any company to provide an environment that contributes to a recruit’s sense of well-being. Teleworking can do that, and thus increase engagement and reduce attrition rates.[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]Work/life flexibility increases employee satisfaction & #retention and decreases unscheduled absences[/tweetthis]
Remote collaboration gives companies the opportunity to be flexible and accountable when adopted properly. So, how can a company implement an effective teleworking strategy? First and foremost, teleworkers need a collaboration platform or virtual office. The best collaboration products provide employees a place to discuss projects, leave feedback or suggestions, and meet and communicate online as if they were actually in the physical office. File-sharing services are critical as well, allowing employees to store, access and share files.
Don’t forget to include video conferencing tools. Video conferencing allows for face-to-face meetings from remote locations, enabling more effective communication, building rapport among coworkers, and cutting down any feelings of isolation in a teleworker. Similarly, virtual meeting software allows multiple employees to conference at the same time, and is especially helpful for training and collaboration.
Once you have your strategy and tools in place, it is important to make sure all employees are properly trained to use all of these tools. A properly-trained employee is far more likely to take advantage of the ability to collaborate with coworkers, because they will be confident they know how to use the technology correctly. In truth, companies have more to gain from teleworking than they might think. But it takes buy-in, understanding and adoption.
Want some practical tips for getting your employees to use teleworking tools like video conferencing more effectively? Check out this post about how to get your employees to use video for collaboration.