It used to be that the typical American workday consisted of trying to get to work by 9:00 a.m. (easier said than done in some areas of the country), working for eight hours then heading home. But thanks to advances in technology, such as the cloud, there has been a shift in what a “typical” workday looks like. Telecommuting and teleworking have become increasingly common; a 2012 survey of more than 1,000 workers revealed that 83% worked remotely at least part of the day.
Before we discuss the potential drawbacks and benefits of allowing your employees to telecommute or telework, we should probably define what these two terms mean. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but do have slightly different meanings. Teleworking is the broader of the two terms and refers to working at any location off-site from the main office. Telecommuting is a slightly narrower term that generally refers to working from the home, thus eliminating the need to commute. According to Brie Reynolds, a teleworker travels to and from various locations, but not necessarily a regular office; this includes working on-site with a client, working at a branch office or working from an airport or hotel. She goes on to say that telecommuting does not require one to leave their own house and includes working from a home office or an office on one’s property.
Despite the growing number of people teleworking and telecommuting, some employers are still hesitant to allow their employees to work outside of the office. One of the most obvious concerns employers have is whether or not their employees will get the work done if they are not in the office. While a majority of managers said they trust their employees, one-third said they would rather have them in the office just to be sure they are completing their work. Security is another major concern for many businesses, since telecommuting and teleworking requires that they allow their employee to access their network and data from an outside source. Working from outside the office also makes communication slightly more difficult. It is often easier to discuss things (e.g. new projects, changes in policies, etc.) when they are actually in the office.
The benefits of telecommuting and teleworking for the employee are fairly easy to see: it means they don’t have to sit in traffic trying to get to the office, a more flexible schedule and allows them to more easily balance their home and work lives. Like most things, telecommuting and teleworking are not right for every business and every employee. If you feel that these methods could work for you, however, they do offer several distinct advantages and benefits:
- Productivity: While employers are concerned that employees will not be as productive, studies have shown quite the opposite. A study from Cisco showed that nearly 60% of employees surveyed who work remotely actually felt they were more productive, 75% said their timeliness had improved and 67% said their quality of work had improved.
- Money: Telecommuting and teleworking can save you money. Since the company does not have to house as many employees, this can save a lot of money in terms of overhead costs.
- Employee satisfaction: Since hours are flexible and they don’t have to spend extra time commuting to and from the office, employees often more satisfied with their jobs. Employers who allow their employees to work off-site have seen higher levels of employee retention.
Companies that offer the opportunity to telecommute or telework are finding more and more benefits. The above are certainly not an exhaustive list of the benefits, but they are pretty good incentives to consider the possibility of letting employees work outside of the office setting.
Cloud computing is one of the technologies that has made effective telecommuting and teleworking possible. Since your company’s data and software are hosted off-site, your employees can access the information they need from anywhere, increasing collaboration between those working in the office and those working from elsewhere.
At IronOrbit, we provide cloud solutions that make working remotely easier. With your custom-built cloud and virtual desktop, your company reaps all the benefits of a telecommuting employee while knowing that your data and network are protected by our Orbital Security feature. You and your employees can access necessary data and applications from anywhere: the office, their home, a hotel room or a coffee shop.