Recently, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that 38% of US employees were allowed to telecommute on a regular basis — a 15% increase since 2008. As the telecommuting trend continues, companies are finding new ways to manage and communicate with remote employees.
Regardless of their location, telecommuters are considered to be part of a company’s labor force. Telecommunication exists in some form in most industries. Here are some specific examples:
- Federal workers: 3.3%
- Private Nonprofit: 2.9%
- Private For Profit: 2.6%
- State Govt.: 2.4%
- Local Govt.: 1.2%
Though telecommuting has increased, what are the benefits of having a remote workforce and how much does it cost/save a company?
Employee satisfaction appears to be the primary benefit. A matter of fact, two-thirds of employees report that they would like to telecommute if possible, and 36% would even take it instead of a pay raise. Most companies that allow telecommuting report losing fewer employees. Furthermore, most companies report that telecommuting has increased productivity and reduced their needs of centralized office spaces, helping to lessen the burden on real estate costs.
But there’s a downside to telecommuting felt by others. Some employees simply aren’t good candidates for telecommuting because they miss out on the social interaction that spurs their productivity. Telecommuting can also put a company at higher risk to experience data breaches, as more and more information is transferred online. Furthermore, efficiently promoting remote work without investing in complex communication infrastructure systems can present a challenge. And others find that collaboration is lost, as people miss out on the opportunity to collaborate with a team.
Telecommuting can be effective when organized correctly. Leading companies like IBM and Cisco have each experienced success.
To succeed, management must prioritize effective communication and specific worker tasks must be clearly communicated and organized. To make this an easier transition, tools like “Screen Share” can be used to coordinate with coworkers. Lastly, tracking hours and analyzing worker productivity are both key.
Despite the challenges in implementing telecommuting, it appears as if this workplace trend is here to stay. It’s uncertain what telecommuting will look like years from now, and. It may never fully replace onsite office work, but it will likely gain popularity. To learn more about managing remote employees, visit the Grace College website.