While it can hardly be considered a new idea in the business world, telecommuting may deserve a second look if your company is searching for ways to cut costs, according to a recent Entrepreneur.com article.
“Rather than thinking outside the box, you may want to think outside the office.”
In 2008, more than 17 million U.S. workers telecommuted at least one day a month, according to a WorldatWork report. Telecommuters account for slightly more than 10% of the workforce and their numbers have grown almost 40% from 2006.
Over the next seven years the U.S. telecommuter population will reach 63 million, amounting to almost a third of all U.S. workers, according to Forrester Research predictions.
Both U.S. business owners and their employees are proponents of telecommuting. More than 70% of the U.S. workforce and 53% of small businesses are interested in telecommuting, according to Citrix Online’s Worldwide workplace survey.
The benefits of telecommuting on the business’ side range from lower energy costs, to improved employee retention and lower payroll costs. About 1 in 5 workers are willing to give up 5% of their salary to telecommute just a couple days a week, according to the Citrix survey.
However, simply sending employees home to work won’t immediately reduce your payroll. There will always be some management and logistical issues to work out before putting an employee telecommuting program in place.
If people share workstations when they are in the office, you need a schedule of when they'll be home and when they won't. There's also the question of oversight and management--some business owners and managers want to see their employees (and, let's face facts, some employees need to be seen). Plus, not every business function is conducive to remote work. Point being you need to pick your spot.
There's also a technology hurdle to clear. To be effective, your remote workers need access to communications and applications and you need to figure out how to provide everything from a phone extension to secure IT access.
These days, every company is looking for ways to get more done with less and telecommuting offers a major advantage. After working out the logistics, telecommuting gives employees the benefit of flexibility and employers will stay competitive by cutting operating costs and having the ability to hire top talent regardless of their location.
Of course, telecommuting won’t work for every business or career, but it’s worth taking another look at. Depending on your situation, it has the potential to deliver some real perks.
Citrix’s “Worldwide Workplace: The Web Commuting Imperative” is available at www.workshifting.com.
Has your company saved money by allowing employees to telecommute? What benefits/drawbacks to telecommuting have you experienced?