The tech era has allowed opportunities to reach people who previously had their hands tied because of their location or their circumstances. Working from home — also known as telecommuting — is not a new trend, but it is drawing more attention as companies look for avenues to better relate to their employees and to maximize their resources. It opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure. It also brings new responsibilities for the employer and employee.
The tech industry currently has the most telecommuters, but other industries have begun to employ telecommuters for copy writing, editing, marketing, SEO, social media management, and others that do not require heavy experience with technical skills. This is useful when you take into consideration the entry into the labor force of a generation that has grown alongside technology. Millennials and Gen Z are very well-versed with laptops, smartphones, and social media applications, and incorporating their passion for everything techy with their work may help your business flourish.
So what does telecommuting bring to the table — both good and bad? And how can companies work with it?
Access to a wider pool of applicants
Firstly, companies who are open to taking telecommuters in or adjusting the work schedule of their current employees can better interact with people who live far away, eliminating some of the hassles associated with establishing a physical space in those locations as well as expanding the company’s circle of influence.
This not only benefits the company by giving them more connections and talents to choose from — this also benefits audiences that previously went unnoticed because of their location or circumstances, such as people with special needs, teenagers, and even senior citizens who still want to earn some money.
- Financial benefits
One of the difficulties companies must face in its growth is the expansion of its working spaces. But with telecommuting, the responsibility of getting a good working space falls mostly on the employee. The employee can sort this out at home, in a coffee shop, or in any place they will be comfortable working in. This freedom to decide where they will work can also be beneficial for them, because they can also take into consideration other factors that an office space may be unable to provide — like proximity to their children, or facilities for special needs. Ultimately, comfort for employees is maximized and the costs companies may incur towards buying a new office is minimized in this kind of arrangement.
- Improved employee retention
Offering the option of working from home will undoubtedly sound good in an age where more people are choosing to simultaneously raise a family and continue working. This can help companies retain working parents with childcare responsibilities, as well as look attractive among the millennials and Gen Z population.
Lack of in-person communication and collaboration
Despite being born and raised with technology, studies show that the current generation still prioritizes in-person communication in the workplace. In a survey conducted by Future Workplace (an HR executive network and research firm) and Randstad (one of the largest HR services and staffing companies in the United States) last year, the values of millennials and Gen Z may be drastically different from that of the past generations, but 39% prefer in-person communication over digital alternatives.
It may sometimes be difficult to relay messages and instructions to employees because of the nature of digital interactions, along with concerns that the employee may be too preoccupied with other home-related tasks to do their job.
- Performance issues
A considerable factor that affects an employee’s productivity is the workspace atmosphere. The distinction between personal life and work life is what drives many workers to focus while on the job, and when these things mix together it does not always turn out well.
Even if telecommuters start strong, the lack of an official office space may cause a deterioration in their skills and work quality as time goes by. There may be too many distractions and disturbances when telecommuting, such as poor internet connection, feelings of isolation, family life, and other responsibilities not associated with work. It will require a strong sense of discipline and a good work setup to maintain the quality of performance as a telecommuter.
- Costs of working from home
Even with the option of working from home, employers may still need to consider the costs of training and providing any needed suitable equipment, the adaptions required to meet health and safety standards, and the needs of disabled employees.
- Information security risk:
Telecommuters usually use their own internet connection, which may or may not be secure. They could also be working outside, in cafés or libraries, and when they use public Wi-Fi to connect, they could be exposing sensitive data to hackers.
There is also a lack of physical security as well. In the comfort of their homes, people may not follow the same level of security an office has. Sensitive company data may be compromised when they leave their computers unattended, leave their workspaces and filing cabinets unlocked, or fail to follow other basic security protocols, which lead to unnecessary risk.
How can you maximize your first attempts at telecommuting?
If you’re willing to try out telecommuting, here are a few things you can do to ease you and your company into the transition.
First, you can mitigate the problems caused with the distance by implementing meetings or teambuilding activities every once in a while. You can arrange a face-to-face meeting with your employees once a month, and create informal channels of communication not related to work they can use to chat and bond over.
With the help of HR, companies need to build a strong company culture that the telecommuters can feel even at the comfort of their own home. This can lessen feelings of isolation experienced by telecommuters, and add to the possibility of employee retention.
With regards to the security of working from home, companies should consider making the installation of an antivirus, as well as regular backups, mandatory. In case of emergencies, employees should be informed of what to do and who to contact so as to minimize the damages incurred.
Lastly, companies don’t need to send everybody home to see how telecommuting goes if they consider using a rotating schedule. This ensures that there will always be a certain portion of the staff whose progress can be tracked and monitored personally.
Leaving employees to their own devices as they work from home can seem a bit daunting for people who have grown used to seeing them face-to-face, but innovators have jumped on the opportunity to assist companies with their telecommuters by creating apps meant for a telecommuting workforce. Roadmap and Time Doctor are examples of apps that help track time for remote employees, and even has options for screen captures, required working hours, and other necessary tools for time-tracking softwares.
They offer free trials for their services so people can try it for themselves and see how it goes without committing to it immediately. The links to their websites are below:
Roadmap - Multiple Projects, Multiple SaaS Tools, One View
Connect project goals with realities, compare planned vs. actual, load balance at-risk projects, and make custom…ppmroadmap.com
Smart Employee Time Tracking Software with Screenshots | Time Doctor
Time Doctor is an employee time tracking software that helps you and your team get a lot more done each day. Try it for…www.timedoctor.com