Over the last decade, norms in the workplace have changed and shifted dramatically, particularly when it comes to telecommuting. Thanks to technological advancements and the entrance of more millennials into the workforce, there is an increasing number of people who are working from home. From 2005 to 2012, employee telecommuting grew by a huge 80%, numbers which have been growing ever since and are not expected to slow down any time soon.
Whether or not you allow your employees to telecommute is no longer a decision that you may need to think about one day, it’s an essential one that needs to be made and sooner rather than later. Whilst telecommuting often refers to employees who work exclusively from home, it can also mean those who split their time between the home and the office. Before deciding whether or not your business should allow telecommuting, it’s vital to consider all the pros and cons.
One of the main advantages to hiring workers who telecommute is that you have the option to hire from a much wider pool of suitable candidates. Recruiting people who have the unique skill sets that you need can be a lot more difficult when you are limited by geography. When you hire remote workers who will telecommute, however, you are able to hire based on skills, qualities and qualifications alone – there’s no need to worry about whether they’re at the other end of the country, or sometimes even in a different country altogether.
Giving your employees the option to work from either at home or the office depending on their preferences is one of the best ways to ensure employee satisfaction. With satisfied employees who feel valued in their workplace and are able to achieve a good work/life balance due to the option for working remotely if needed, employee morale will see a huge boost and you will see more and more of your best talent sticking around.
Many businesses decide to put a telecommute policy in place and hire remote workers due to the vast cost savings which come as an advantage. When your employees are working from home or another location of their choice, it means that you can save money on business costs such as office space and equipment, improving your cash flow.
Thanks to modern technological advances, telecommuting and hiring remote workers has never been so easy. Thanks to software such as Skype and cloud computing applications, collaborating with your remote employees is simple and can be done within a matter of seconds. Skype, for example, offers a range of video conferencing features which make it easy to communicate even if a person is not physically present.
On to the ‘cons’ side, employers who are thinking of hiring workers who telecommute have to keep in mind that there are often a number of hiring risks. In order to successfully work from home, employees will need to be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined, and it can often be tough to successfully gauge these skills during an interview. In addition to that, it is important that employees who work from home are comfortable with the level of flexibility that it provides. Those who prefer a structured routine may be suited better to working from an office location.
Managing remote employees can often place added pressure on management staff. Although it is easy to stay in touch with your telecommute employees via Skype and other methods of instant messaging and communication, when they are not physically present in the office you can’t just go over and ask a question. Because of this, managers who are in the office overseeing the work of remote employees need to be fully prepared – the job takes patience, understanding, self-awareness and intense communication.
Determining whether or not telecommuting is right for your business is entirely down to you. The decision that you come to should be based on a number of various factors, such as the type of business that you run – for example, employees who work in mainly customer-facing roles may not be able to work from home, whereas those who predominantly take phone calls could. You should also weigh up the various benefits and risks of hiring workers who telecommute in order to come to a decision as to whether or not the advantages are worth taking risks for.