Employees and employers benefit from telecommuting, but the actual workers drive this paradigm shift. Working remotely still has a significant appeal for employees, and enterprises have taken notice.
According to Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, the average worker in America telecommutes twice a month, with 46% doing so during the workday. Further, approximately 37% of U.S. workers state that they have telecommuting experience, and this number is expected to grow.
From an employer’s standpoint, working remotely can save enterprises approximately $2,000 per employee over a period of a year. Further, there’s the added benefit of lower attrition rates and increased productivity.
How Telecommuting Enhances Productivity
According to Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, working remotely can increase productivity by 1/3. It’s suggested that this could be due to a quieter and less distracting environment away from the office.
Further, the other two-thirds can be explained by the fact that most people that worked from home worked more hours. They also started earlier, worked until the end of the day, and often took shorter breaks.
There was no time to commute to work or for lunch, so they remained fresh and energetic. Further, sick days were dramatically reduced when it came to workers who regularly telecommuted.
As a result, this perception that remote workers don’t work as hard as those at an office is entirely baseless. Even when companies don’t allow remote working options, the workers are already doing it by checking emails and making decisions outside of working hours.
So it’s no surprise that the workforce is also getting globalized, and the traditional idea of a “brick-and-mortar office” is slowly getting displaced. This is also evidenced by a study conducted by the American Community Survey which found that telecommuting rose by 79% between 2005 and 2012.
This makes up 2.6% of the U.S. workforce or 3.2 million remote workers.
Other benefits of telecommuting include the following:
- Work hour flexibility (this is highly beneficial for employees)
- Work hours aren’t limited to shifts (this suits each individual working style)
- Cost-effective (low overheads by saving on space and energy)
- Employees take on more responsibility (being trusted away from the office makes employees take tasks more seriously)
- Increased loyalty
Telecommuting and Globalization
If enterprises are just looking to hire workers within their geographical location, there’s a good chance that much-needed skills and experience are lacking. The best solution for this is to seek out potential employees on a global scale.
We already have the tools like Basecamp, Skype, and PayPal, so there’s no reason why this cannot be managed efficiently.
According to a study conducted by Fieldglass, 35% of the workforce today is comprised of non-employee workers. Non-employee workers can be anyone from temporary workers to contractors and freelancers.
As a result, more and more businesses have started to view this shift in the employment paradigm as a key element to achieving business goals.
This can be a cause for concern when it comes to full-time employees in the physical office space. But according to CIO.com, full-time employees don’t have anything to worry about at the moment. Although there is some movement towards embracing a gig economy, it’s been a slow process.
This is because employees will be needed in-house to handle the company’s core competencies. So in the future, you can expect a mix of full-time employees (both in-house and telecommuting), outsourced workers, and freelancers.
Currently, the challenges faced by employers are related to compliance with federal, state, and regulatory policies. When hiring people from other states and countries, things can get a little complicated. But these can be managed with human resources management systems.
So telecommuting can be highly beneficial in more ways than just cutting costs. It can enhance productivity and loyalty and enable businesses to access niche skills for a short period of time.
Further, as the needs of the company change, the network of employees can be easily scaled up or down without affecting the number of core staff members within the organization.