Study Finds Telecommuting a Good Idea…for Some

No solution works for every business, so remember to look past all the hoopla of any new trend to see whether it really fits your needs. The excitement over telecommuting is a great example of this. Certainly, the benefits of this trend have been publicized often enough. More productivity, greater mobility, and more flexibility are all part of the pitch and the reason both entrepreneurs and employees may want to try this new working arrangement. Still, it isn’t the best solution for every business. Read on.

From the Home Front

One size doesn’t fit all. A recent Stanford University study of an online Chinese travel agency showed a considerable increase in productivity when some employees were allowed to work from home, but ultimately it turned out not all employees involved were happy with the arrangement. An author of the study says a conversation with employees at JetBlue indicates work flexibility may be more important to employee satisfaction than the other aspects of telecommuting. Slate

Test the limits. Not everyone is convinced of the benefits of telecommuting. Journalist Evgeny Morozov points to the advantages of working from home or from the local coffee shop spelled out by telecommuting advocate Alvin Toffler in his groundbreaking book “The Third Wave.” But the reality may be a bit less optimistic, Morozov insists. Telecommuters who work or operate a business online may have traded increased productivity for less work/life balance. The Free Press

Work from Home Renaissance

Count the cost. Morozov may question the benefits of telecommuting from the standpoint of work/life balance, and other critics may question it on more subjective grounds, but telecommuter Miranda Marquit says from a simple standpoint of dollars and cents and cost to the environment, the trend has clear advantages. From the lower expenses telecommuters generally enjoy from working at home to less time spent on the road, it’s easy to see the advantages. Sustainable Personal Finance

Know when to say when. One of the major benefits of telecommuting for small business owners and entrepreneurs is the availability of virtual assistants to do the many jobs in your business that free up your efforts for other things. In this video interview with Chris Tucker from by blogger Timo Kiander, we learn more about how to choose the best virtual assistants for your business and even which tasks aren’t a good idea to hand over. Productive Superdad

Manage Your Home Workers

Options for Telecommuters. For those who seek to start a business providing services online or entrepreneurs who want to hire virtual employees, see Holly Hanna’s post on the five work-at-home trends for 2013. Before thinking about how telecommuting may help your business, determine whether what you need is easily deliverable online. The number of services that are available from telecommuters is increasing. The Work at Home Woman

Management best practices. When hiring telecommuters for your business, it’s important to think about how best to manage these workers. Employees or contractors won’t be directly supervised by you, obviously. They will likely work on their own timetables, though certainly they will need to meet your stated deadlines and required results. For this reason, it’s best to have a clear set of expectations when bringing telecommuters into your company, says small business writer Jessica Sanders. UPrinting

Security threat. Data security is the greatest concern entrepreneurs and small business owners face when hiring telecommuters to free up time for other core responsibilities. After all, hand out mobile devices to telecommuting workers and you run the risk of hackers targeting your network. So, the key is to establish data security before allowing employees to work from a remote location. Buzz Small Business Magazine

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7 Reactions
  1. I think working from home is like everything: it works for some and not others. I can ignore the piles of laundry while I’m furiously typing away in my home office; others would get distracted by chores and the stocked pantry!

  2. I love working from home and find my productivity is better than the odd day I have to spend in a client’s office. My distractions at home are far less than they are in a busy office. But it does take a lot of will power and really isn’t for everyone

  3. Working anywhere but home is insane. Going to work and getting drowned with chit chat at the water cooler is too much. Managers (specifically IT) need face time to help make themselves feel better for no longer producing and being a drain on the bottom line. Don’t measure employees on seat time but rather output, or lose them.

  4. Sian and Susan,
    Agree with both of you 100 percent. The issue is not whether telecommuting is better or worse but rather whether it works for you and your business. Susan, thanks so much for sharing this post with the BizSugar community!

  5. Martin Lindeskog

    Do you have a number on how many are working according to the means of telecommuting and from their homes on a regular basis?

  6. For me, telecommuting is one of the best answer for someone like me who’s looking to save up more money and spending time with my loved ones. I have a higher work productivity and it is less stressful because of the time flexibility. I also use Worksnaps, a time tracking software for remote employees that helps me stay on track.