Teleworking, or telecommuting, is a growing trend for companies that allow employees to work remotely from home, avoiding commute trips. This not only reduces traffic congestion, air pollution, and their carbon footprint, but studies have shown that teleworkers are more productive and take less time off overall than those who commute to the office.
The telework benefits affect both the employee and the employer, especially those who face large operating costs.
For the employee, initial investments in the network infrastructure and hardware are balanced by the potential for increased productivity. Employees working from home experience overall greater well-being as they find a better work-life balance and endure less commuter-related stress and time spent commuting. The positive environmental impact is also a great benefit. In 2015, Xerox estimated teleworkers drove 92 million fewer miles, reducing carbon emissions by nearly 41,000 metric tons and saving over $10 million in one year alone.
- Reduces real estate costs – An office space freed up by teleworkers offers options for desk-sharing, storage, or rental space. It also allows a company to grow without the concern of adding real estate space or moving facilities. Parking expenses are also reduced.
- Decreases employee recruitment and training costs – A flexible work environment is generally less stressful and leads to lower employee turnover. A higher retention rate of employees lowers expenses for recruitment, hiring, and training.
- Allows for work to continue despite the climate – Teleworking is not affected by bad weather days, flu outbreaks, or any other crisis that may affect productivity or shut down the central office for an extended time.
- Lowers and may eliminate relocation costs – In some cases, relocation costs can be avoided by combining telework options with limited business travel.
- Extends your human resources pool – Teleworking taps into the pool of qualified employees who are unable to drive or have limited access to public transit.
- Improves company morale – By eliminating the stress of a commute, employees have more positive company morale and appreciate employers who help them find solutions to their commuting struggles.
- Increases productivity – The flexibility that teleworking provides also reduces sick days as employees can still check in to work as needed while seeing to their personal or family needs. Teleworking also reduces workplace distractions and allows work to be done during the time employees would normally spend on their commute.
More Productive Workers
Less Workplace Stress
Improve Air Quality
Frequently Asked Questions
Most teleworkers report higher productivity without distractions from the office, which will be evident in their work. But if you’d rather check in to see their progress, there are several employee monitoring software programs available. These programs allow teleworkers to track time spent on client projects, access screens with live video feed and screenshots, track files and documents with cloud-based storage, and many more options. PCMag.com provides a list of top employee monitoring tools and features.
Most organizations start with a small-scale pilot program to work out any setbacks to the program before adding more employees. Written policies and employee agreements, providing the necessary equipment, selecting participants, and setting a timeline for the pilot program are all considerations when setting up a telework program.
The telework agreement should establish how these costs will be covered, but most companies cover a percentage of electricity and phone costs, as well as the supplies needed to work from home.
With clear communication and policies in place, negative effects can be minimized for non-teleworkers. Employers should ensure that all employees are treated equally when it comes to expectations and performance, regardless of where they are working. Employees who telework more than two or three days a week should be encouraged to visit the office and participate in team-building programs to maintain personal relationships with colleagues.
Tools & Resources
The rise of telework tools have been overwhelming in the past decade or two with more efficient software like GoToMyPC, Skype, and LogMeIn. Here is a guide to the types of tools needed to set up teleworking.
- Thin Client - enables employees to remotely access a variety of common Windows applications through a Web browser from any location with an Internet connection. The system works on both Windows and Mac computers.
- Virtual Private Network - creates an encrypted Internet "tunnel" between your computer and the agency network. This ensures that documents, files, and data that you access can only be seen by you and not someone else.
- Online Meeting - is a collaborative conference tool that enables online meeting participants to share information virtually. Participants from varying locations can all view the same presentation on their computer screen while editing and revising documents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).
- Instant Messaging - is a feature that makes real-time communication quick and easy.
- Tethering - enables users to connect their computer to the Internet by using a mobile device for an internet connection.
- Voice Over IP (VoIP) - is a telephone system that simplifies communication, encourages telework, and saves money by using the Internet rather than traditional telephone lines to make phone calls.
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