Nowadays, more and more companies are adopting telecommuting policies which allow their employees to work for certain days at home than having to commute to work. Other companies like Dell, Xerox and Aetna hire full-time employees who work home-based. Telecommuting or teleworking is an arrangement between an employee and the employer where the former need not report to a central office to carry on his or her job. The evolution of technology has made this practice possible and much easier with the technological tools available like the internet, mobile phones and other smart devices.
Presently, two industrial sectors that offer the flexibility of telecommuting is the IT industry and healthcare. According to the founder and CEO of FlexJobs, Sara Sutton Fell, the computer industry is on the top list when it comes to supporting remote work options and telecommuting. She also added that in the last decade, the medical and healthcare industries are starting to gain momentum as well. The idea sounds convincing given the benefits that come with working wherever you please so long as your job permits is. However, there are also significant setbacks associated with this increasingly popular work arrangement.
List of Pros of Telecommuting
1. Work Life Balance
Supporters of telecommuting posit that with the flexibility in schedule brought about by telecommuting, employees will have the freedom to balance their work and personal lives. They will be able to attend to personal commitments and responsibilities at home even while working. Working moms, for example, find it hard to juggle between working at the office and attending to children. By being able to work at a time convenient for them or at least be given a chance to work from home even for a day or two in a week, it will be easier to balance their obligations at home and responsibilities at work.
2. Increased Productivity
Advocates for working remotely claim that employees who work from home or have jobs that are location-independent are more likely to concentrate on what they do unlike in a working environment, such as at the office, where there are distractions. Moreover, workers are less likely to call in sick for work. And since employees are given the flexibility in schedule, they can work at a time convenient for them and even extend their working hours if they prefer. Consequently, more work can be done.
3. Healthier Environment
With lesser people driving their cars to work, there will be less carbon emissions in the environment and lesser noise pollution. Also, with lesser employees at the office who report to work, there will be lesser demand for energy. In effect, this will reduce the need to burn fossil fuel.
4. Employee Retention
People in favor of working from home say that the convenience and flexibility it offers contribute to the happiness and satisfaction of the members of the team. Happy and satisfied employees will be inspired to work and at the same time be motivated to stay with the company. This is important especially if management want to retain performing employees.
5. Corporate Image
By including a telecommuting policy, the organization will build a reputation that it knows how to take care of employees. This is a great tool to attract potential candidates who are highly qualified to be part of the team. As for the existing employees, they will be motivated to work harder and if the nature of the business has to deal with customer service, chances are, these employees will exert extra effort to improve the quality of service they offer to customers. In the end, sales and profit are more likely to increase.
List of Cons of Telecommuting
1. Loss of Collaboration
Despite the possibility of continuous communication because of technology, the CEO of Yahoo has recently issued a memo that telecommuting arrangements will no longer be in existence come June. This is because of the need for collaboration and communication to be achieved that working from home does not offer. This was also the belief of Steve Jobs about workers being in the same place and working side by side, breakthroughs can be made.
2. Decreased Productivity
Critics of telecommuting argue that this type of work arrangement can lead to lesser productivity since contrary to what supporters say, there are many distractions at home. Without the managers or supervisors overseeing the employees, there is a big possibility that some employees will slack off and be distracted with other things they can do at home other than work like watching television, checking their social media accounts, doing personal errands and talking over the phone.
3. Lesser Interaction
Opponents of teleworking say that there is the possibility for an individual who works from home to feel isolated from the rest of the employees since they will not have time interact and hone their interpersonal skills. For employees who work from home, they will miss building friendships with other employees so if and when they need to attend functions like meetings and events at the office, they might feel uncomfortable and left out. Also, introvert persons who prefer being alone might enjoy this set up but those who love going out and socialize will find it hard to adjust to this work arrangement.
4. Loss of Engagement
People who are not happy about the idea of telecommuting claim that by staying home and working, the person will be socially isolated and have lesser interaction with others. Moreover, people who telecommute might feel the pressure to be more productive for the fear that their colleagues and the management might think they are not working enough. The pressure to be productive, the feeling of isolation and lack of support from peers because of location will make telecommuters less engaged with their jobs.
5. Loss of Morale
For companies that have mixed work arrangements where there are employees allowed to work remotely and those who need to report to the office, the morale of those who are required to commute to the office might be affected. They might look at the policy as unfair.
Telecommuting has its advantages but it is important to know that this is not for everybody. Employers have to talk to their employees and listen to what the team has to say when it comes to telecommuting policies. Conversely, employees who wish to telecommute should have self-discipline and hone their organizational and time management skills.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.