Whether it’s a sudden storm,a natural disaster or delays on employee travel, you need your business to keep running smoothly – even if not everyone makes it into the office that day. With customers contacting you across the nation or from around the globe, neither the weather nor your time zone should inhibit their ability to reach you, possibly with a purchase in mind.
If weather this past winter has slowed down your operations, it’s time to consider telecommuting for your business and employees. Telecommuting is an arrangement where employees work from home – or any other location – by means of mobile technology.
In this first of three blog posts on telecommuting, we’ll address the benefits and challenges of working remotely. In the second part, we’ll prepare your business to make the switch to a mobile office. And in the third part, we’ll cover telecommuting technology tools and how to implement them for your remote employees.
While not every business operation can be completed from afar, working remotely should be an option for certain professionals present in every business, such as:
- Marketing Personnel
- Customer Service Representatives
However, making the transition to a remote workplace isn’t always easy, particularly if you don’t have the right telecommuting technology for your employees. Before you allow staff members to work from home, keep the following points and consequences in mind as you prepare your business for telecommuting:
Benefits and Challenges of Telecommuting
Benefits of a Mobile Office
Surveys show that employees who are allowed and able to work remotely are happier, healthier and more productive overall. Without a long or difficult drive into headquarters, employees experience less stress and often end up eating healthier because they prepare their own food at home. In addition, a 2013 study by Stanford University revealed that telecommuting employees experienced a 13% increase in performance, took fewer breaks and sick days and the business never suffered productivity loss due to weather.
Having a remote workplace isn’t only a matter of convenience for current employees – it’s also a competitive advantage for recruiting top talent to your company. New hires, especially Millennials, value a strong work-life balance with a flexible workspace and schedule. Telecommuting allows you to competitively attract this talent pool; after all, Millennials will soon comprise the highest percentage of employees in the workforce.
A mobile office also has other benefits for your business, including:
- Increased employee loyalty
- Communicates employee trust (letting them work without supervision)
- Wider in-person geographic networking
- Retention of high-quality employees regardless of geography
Challenges of a Mobile Office
A telecommuting policy for remote employees has downsides as well, including:
- Employees might not diligently complete their work
- Collaborating with remote employees might be more difficult for certain projects
- Employees might not be available for easy contact if they work on different schedules
Many of these problems aren’t just a matter of telecommuting technology or having the right business IT infrastructure. They’re also a matter of communicating and managing expectations with employees as you transition your business to a remote workplace.
With a polar vortex putting a stop to a number of businesses across the country this past winter, it’s time your company made the leap to a mobile office. Stop losing money or productivity by sending team members home early (or having them come in late) and start allowing your employees to work in a place they’re already at ease – the comfort of their own home.