I’ve long been an advocate of allowing employees to work remotely if at all possible. As a manger, I’ve found that enabling remote work at least part of the time boosts employee morale, loyalty and productivity.
The results of an experiment conducted this year bear me out. Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership that promotes telework, partnered with Cisco to establish 2011 National Telework Week, which encouraged organizations and individuals to pledge to telework for one week in February. Some 39,694 employees participated, and here’s what they and their employers learned, according to Telework Exchange’s recently released report:
- More Productive: Both organizations and employees reported increased employee productivity during Telework Week.
- More Time: Telework Week participants saved approximately two hours of commuting time each day. (Their average roundtrip commute was 50 miles.) If you consider time as money, teleworking two days a week is equivalent to a $3,439 annual raise.
- More Support: Managers are more open to the concept than they have ever been. Sixty percent of organizations participating say management is more supportive of telework than just one year ago.
Here are the top five things management liked most about telework:
1. Improved employee work/life balance
2. Increased morale/employee satisfaction
3. Increased employee productivity
4. Improved business continuity
5. Improved understanding of telework best practices
What do employees like best about telework? An overwhelming number – 76 percent – say they were more productive.
Here’s something for everyone to like: Telework helps the environment. Based on the results of Telework Week, Telework Exchange estimates enabling the nation’s full-time wage and salary workers to telework just twice a week would save $215 billion and spare the environment 143 million tons of pollutants.
How can you make telework work for your business? Here’s some advice from the participants:
- “Make a schedule so that everyone knows when each person is teleworking.”
- “[Teleworkers need] a solid plan for the day, knowing deliverables and goals.”
- “A supportive supervisor … [is critical for success].”
- “Improve the IT infrastructure to ensure maximum efficiency of all systems and applications.”
- “Improve the use of an electronic file system so that all hard copies are available from anywhere.”
Participants used laptops, landline phones, cell phones and Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections while teleworking.
The telework trend can only continue to grow given that 68 percent of the participating Gen Y employees said that, when they consider future jobs, they’ll give preference to those that offer telework.
Still not convinced? Consider this: 86 percent of those who participated in Telework Week worked for the federal government. If an organization as bureaucratic and staid as Uncle Sam can “get with the times” enough to offer telework, shouldn’t your business be able to do the same?