With the rising cost of gas and the high overhead of keeping the lights on in corporate offices, more and more companies are not only allowing employees to telecommute—they are encouraging working from home.
Here are nine factors that are driving the increase in telecommuting:
1. Talent Acquisition and Retention. Finding and keeping good employees is difficult, even in a bad economy. More employees in high-demand fields such as programming, user interface design, and engineering are demanding the work/life balance that comes with working at home. Many industries now realize that to attract and keep the best talent, telecommuting must be an option.
2. Going Green. Have you noticed how many large companies have jumped on the “go green” bandwagon the last few years? Those who market themselves as “green” companies, yet frown on telecommuting, seem disingenuous in their environmental marketing. Telecommuting reduces a company’s environmental footprint and is a pre-requisite for a company to be taken seriously as “environmentally friendly.”
3. Cost Cutting. When employees work from home, companies can spend less on office furniture, cubicles, supplies and things like air conditioning and heating. Companies like these savings, which is why many are offering telecommuting as a full or part-time option.
4. Ubiquitous Broadband. Most communities now offer high-speed DSL and cable Internet services, which means the days of turtle-slow dial-up connections are gone. The faster Internet connections allow for faster uploads of large files, which is critical for employee productivity.
5. Growth in Mobile Computing. You no longer need to be sitting in front of your laptop to check and respond to office emails. The proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices has made telecommuting more efficient and productive.
6. Security Concerns. This may seem counterintuitive, but having employees all at one corporate location may lead to compromised security. It seems as if every week you hear about some large corporate enterprise that had its computer system hacked or attacked. When workers aren’t all at the same location, a major computer system attack doesn’t shut down everyone’s productivity.
7. Better “Big Brother” Tracking. In the past, some companies have resisted telecommuting because they feared if managers couldn’t physically see that employees were working, the employees would not work. New software tracking systems exist that not only allow bosses to record every single keystroke that employees make on their computers, but managers can also target individual employees. In other words, the software can be set to monitor Suzy’s activity at one time and Johnny’s another. But, really – if an employer doesn’t trust their employees, why did they hire them in the first place?
8. Online collaboration Tools. Working from home isn’t just for loners! With video conferencing tools such as Skype, GoToMeeting, NetMeeting, WebEx, Google+ Hangouts and others, it’s easier than ever to have scheduled or impromptu meetings with the team.
9. More Digital Natives in the Workforce. Digital natives are people who have grown up with a smart phone in their hands and a computer on their laps. They are not only comfortable with technology, but excel in using it to improve productivity and efficiency.
Despite these trends, less than two percent of all non-self-employed individuals work from home most of the time; however, as companies continue to get squeezed financially in this economic downturn, more organizations may be willing to give telecommuting a road test.
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