Big or small, more companies are looking at letting their employees telecommute now than ever before. According to Telework, 20 million to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week. But many business owners still cling to the notion that you have to be seen in the office to really be productive. What’s your take?
Benefits to Working From Home
The biggest draw to letting employees work from home, especially for small businesses with small budgets, is the cost savings. Without needing quite so much office space and the overhead that comes with it, a company can put more money back into growing the business. But there are even more benefits.
Employees tend to self-regulate when working from home. So rather than taking a coffee/smoke/cupcake break every hour, they’re more likely to sit down in front of their computers and get work done. Telecommuting employees take fewer sick and personal days, USA Today reports, and have increased morale. Turnover tends to be lower for companies that allow telecommuting, so you save time and money that would otherwise be spent looking for new hires.
Offering telecommuting is a great draw for potential employees, and may be the factor that directs them to you over a competitor.
When It Works
Telecommuting works best for positions that aren’t customer facing, and employees who don’t need to meet in person daily. Of course, with technology being what it is, even meetings don’t really need to be face to face. Tools like Skype and Oovoo let you hold videoconferences that are close enough to the real thing to encourage productivity.
Because you likely have a mix of employees who need to interact with customers, meet with teams or just stay squirreled away in the basement, try offering at least some flex options to everyone. For example, you could say sales reps can be out in the field three days a week and catch up on paperwork from home the other two. Teams may be required to meet in person, either at the office or a coffee shop or quiet location, once a week. There are ways to provide the perk of telecommuting to everyone at some level.
What They’ll Need
While you don’t have to supply a cubicle and good coffee anymore, you as the employer are still responsible for a few items telecommuters need:
- Internet service
- Telephone service
- Office supplies
Without the proper equipment for their home offices, your employees can’t be efficient. It’s best to get a system in place for when a new hire comes in so you can outfit their home offices properly.
Are You Ready?
Even if you love coming to the office every day, consider giving your employees options. If you’re not 100 percent on board with the telecommute thing, start with a handful of employees working from home one day a week. Measure productivity after three months, then if you’re impressed, roll out a larger telecommuting plan. You’ll be glad you did.