What is telecommuting and how is it going to help my business?

What is telecommuting and how is it going to help my business?

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Telecommuting is a fancy word for allowing employees to work from home, in remote offices, or while on the road. While this is not a new concept, recent advancements in remote access technology and security have made it very affordable and easy for even micro business owners.

Why would a business want to do this? Some businesses are being forced to because they’ve run out of office space or to accommodate “road warriors.” But many are doing it for these reasons…

  • Business owners (and key managers) working 60+ hours a week are using it as a way to continue working after hours and on weekends from the convenience of their home office.
  • Allowing employees to work from home means businesses can cut back on office space, lowering rent and utility bills – and according to a recent survey of small businesses, nearly 40% of small and medium businesses have (or plan to) cut down office space and allow employee to work remotely from home to save money. Not only is this lowering overhead, but it’s making for happier employees who no longer have to fill their gas tanks.
  • Telecommuting actually increases employee productivity, lowers stress levels, and improves retention. Contrary to what you may believe, employees who work from home tend to work more, not less. Because the computer is right there in their home, they will often put in extra hours during the evening and on weekends when they normally wouldn’t be able to access the network. Plus, employees working on detailed programs, graphics, and projects tend to get more done when they don’t have to deal with office distractions.
  • Some companies are allowing their employees to work from home two or three days out of a week instead of giving them a raise – a bonus many will gladly take over more money. This also works well if you have limited office space because employees can rotate desk usage.
  • It allows you to keep great employees that need or want to relocate, need to stay home to take care of a sick family member, or who are sick, injured, pregnant, or otherwise unable to physically come into the office.

Common Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions About Allowing Your Employees To Work From Home

One of the biggest fears many business owners have about allowing people to work from home is the loss of control they have over that person. They believe that without someone standing over them, employees will goof off during work hours and become LESS productive.

But the hard results prove very different…

Telecommuting has grown at a steady 3% per year for more than 15 years. Currently, more than 23 million people are working from home at least one day a week. The increase in teleworking programs is no accident – it really IS working.

Admittedly, original telecommuting experiments were “do-gooder” projects focused on being earth friendly and generating business savings by reducing use of high priced big city office space. However, when businesses started seeing how it drastically improved turnover and productivity, this “fad” became a hot trend.

Take the Los Angles Bank for example; they decided to test telecommuting to see if it would help their 33% turnover rate. Here were the results…

The experiment worked and within a year the turnover rate was cut to nearly zero and to everyone’s surprise productivity went up 18% saving the regional bank more than $3 million dollars per year.

Since then there have been numerous, well documented, program studies reflecting promising results. For instance AT&T allowed employees to telecommute on a regular basis from home in a New Jersey office of 600 people.

Over a 5 year period a region of AT&T saved more than $11 million annually. Half the savings came from real estate savings while the other came from a measured increase in incremental work hours from employees who were able to have a higher level of concentration with fewer interruptions.

You’re probably thinking, “But I don’t have 600 employees…how does this apply to me?” No matter how small your business or your real estate situation, you can save money. It’ll just be a bit smaller than AT&T. For instance:

On average, small businesses report saving $85,000 to $93,000 per year in lower turnover, reduced operating costs (gas, utilities, office space) and increased productivity after implementing teleworking programs. (Source: International Teleworking Advocacy Group)

Of course, telecommuting might not be right for every employee on staff, but it is a great option (and reward) for key managers or employees who are self-motivated and measured by results rather than hours worked.


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