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Workplace norms have changed dramatically in recent years. From 2005 to 2012, telecommuting grew by 80 percent, due in large part to technological advancements and the influx of millennials into the workforce.

Allowing employees to work from home or another remote location has its pros and cons. Will it work for your company?

The Plusses

By offering telecommuting, you can enhance your employer brand, as well as build morale and retention.

  • Recruiting and keeping top talent is easier when you’re not limited by geography or strict “timeclock” scheduling. If you require employees to work out of your office, you may lose out on people with the skill sets you need most. The option to work remotely can eliminate stressful commutes and build work/life balance – two high priorities for many of today’s workers.
  • Benefit from cost savings. Telecommuting reduces overhead costs and eliminates the need to pay relocation fees or purchase expensive office furnishings.

The Minuses

For telecommuting to succeed, everyone must understand it’s a privilege, not a right. As an employer, you need to encourage and support it, but be prepared to revoke it if it is abused.

  • You may be taking a hiring risk. Employees must be extremely self-motivated to effectively work from home. It can be tough to gauge such skills in an interview. Remote workers need to be comfortable with this type of flexibility. People who need structure and routine may not do well telecommuting.
  • Alignment with management style is key. Managing remote employees takes patience, understanding, intense communication and self-awareness – perhaps even more so than on-site management. For instance, when an employee works remotely, a supervisor can’t simply pop over to their desk with a question.
  • Proximity to colleagues is a key driver of innovation. Both Yahoo and Best Buy changed their telecommuting policies so corporate employees could no longer work remotely. Much depends on the person and the specific position.

A Case Study

A recent study of 250 employees at a large travel agency illustrates both the pros and cons of telecommuting. Over a nine-month period, half of these team members were assigned to work from home while the others remained in the office.

  • Those who telecommuted worked an average of 9.5 percent longer than their colleagues who worked in the office. They were 13 percent more productive and half as likely to quit their jobs.
  • The company saved an annual $2,000 per employee in office costs.
  • However, telecommuters were only half as likely to get promoted. Fifty percent of them asked to return to the office at the end of the study, due to loneliness and fear of being overlooked for career advancement.

The Happy Medium

For the best of both worlds, you may want to consider allowing employees to telecommute on a part-time basis. Have them work at the office to collaborate with their teams — and from home to get more done and maintain work/life equilibrium.

  • Make sure remote employees have the resources they need. This could include everything from phone and internet connections to videoconferencing and document-sharing services.
  • Handle it on a case-by-case basis. Make sure an employee is ready for the responsibility of telecommuting. If a person is a poor performer on-site, they likely will be equally nonproductive at home.

The workforce pros at PrideStaff Fresno can help with your decision on telecommuting – and with how to hire accordingly and implement a system that’s right for you. Contact us today so we can tell you more.

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