Make the road less traveled the way to work!
Based on a synthesis of reviewing thousands of studies, interviews with dozens of telecommuting enthusiasts and naysayers, researchers, and venture capitalists who invest in the remote work model, Fortune 500 executives, virtual employers, and dozens of home-based workers in wide variety of professions, list ‘factoids’ for your consideration as to why we need to make the road less traveled the way to work.
This list of what we’ve found to be the most common advantages for the companies that establish such programs may help you in justifying a conversion from your traditional telephone system to a hosted VoIP (cloud based) system. The following pros and cons of work-from-home programs aren’t just our views; they’re the outcomes from a wide range of studies.
Improves Employee Satisfaction
- 66% (two-thirds) of people want to work from home.
- 36% would choose it over a pay raise. A poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home.
- Millenials are more difficult to recruit (as reported by 56% of hiring managers) and to retain (as reported by 64% of hiring managers), but they are particularly attracted to flexible work arrangements (rating among benefits as an 8 on a 10 scale for impact on overall job satisfaction).
- 80% of employees consider telework a job benefit (saving them time, travel costs and easing the burden of family schedule coordination).
Reduces Staff Attrition
- Losing a valued employee can cost an employer $10,000 to $30,000.
- Recruiting and training new hires costs thousands.
- 14% of Americans have changed jobs to shorten their commute.
- 46% of companies that allow teleworking say it has reduced attrition.
- 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.
- Almost half of employees feel their commute is getting worse; 70% of them feel their employers should take the lead in helping them solve the problem.
- 92% of employees are concerned with the high cost of fuel and 80% of them specifically cite the cost of commuting to work. 73% feel their employers should take the lead in helping them reduce their commuting costs.
- 66% (two-thirds) of employees would take another job to ease their commute.
Reduces Unscheduled Absences
- 78% of employees who call in sick, really aren’t. They do so because of family issues, personal needs, and stress.
- Unscheduled absences cost employers $1,800/employee/year; that adds up to $300 billion/year for U.S. companies.
- According to the American Management Association, organizations that implemented a telework program realized a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences.
- Teleworkers typically continue to work when they’re sick (without infecting others).
- Teleworkers return to work more quickly following surgery or medical issues.
- Flexible hours allow teleworkers to run critical errands or schedule appointments without losing a full day.
- In total, 67% of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters.
- Fortune 100 companies including Best Buy, British Telecom, Dow Chemical, show that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive.
- Sun Microsystems’ experience suggests that employees spend 60% of the commuting time they save performing work for the company.
- AT&T workers work five more hours at home than their office workers.
- JD Edwards teleworkers are 20-25% more productive than their office counterparts.
- American Express workers produced 43% more than their office-based counterparts.
- Compaq increased productivity 15-45%.
Saves Employers Money
- Nearly 60% of employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting.
- Alpine Access Remote Call Center Agents closed 30% more sales than traditional agents the year before, while customer complaints decreased by 90%, and turnover decreased by 88%.
- Nortel estimates that they save $100,000 per employee because they don’t have to relocate.
- Average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000/employee/year.
- IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million.
- Dow Chemical and Nortel save over 30% on non-real estate costs.
- Sun Microsystems saves $68 million a year in real estate costs.
- Offers inexpensive compliance with ADA for disabled workers.
Cuts Down On wasted Meetings
- Asynchronous communications such as video web conferencing allow people to communicate more efficiently.
- Web-based meetings are better-planned and more apt to stay on time and message.
Increases Employee Empowerment
- Remote work forces people to be more independent and self-directed.
- Once telecommuting technologies are in place, employees and contractors can work together without regard to logistics. This substantially increases collaboration options.
- Provides New Employment Opportunities for the Un- and Under-Employed.
- 18 million Americans with some college education aren’t working.
- More than 12% of the working-age population is disabled (16 million).
- 24 million Americans work part-time.
- 255 women work part-time (16.5 million), compared to 10% of men due to parenting or senior care concerns.
Expands The Talent Pool
- Over 40% of employers are feeling the labor pinch; that will worsen as Boomers retire.
- Reduces geographic boundaries.
- Provides access to disabled workers.
- Offers an alternative that would have otherwise kept parents and senior caregivers out of the workforce.
- Offers geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity that would not otherwise be possible.
- Over 70% of employees report that the ability telecommute will be somewhat to extremely important in choosing their next job.
Slows The Business Brain-Drain Driven by Retiring Boomers
- 75% of retirees want to continue to work – but they want the flexibility to enjoy their retirement.
- 36% of retirees say the ability to work part-time rather than full-time, or to work from home would have encouraged them to keep working – even if it didn’t provide health benefits or meant a temporarily reduced pension.
- 38% of surveyed retirees indicated that being able to work seasonally or on an independent contractor basis would have encouraged them to delay retirement.
- 71% of retired workers who later decided to go back to work, originally retired because of a desire for more flexibility than their job offered.
Reduces Staffing Redundancies and Offers Quick Scale-up and Scale-down Options
- 24/7 365-day coverage is easier to staff with home-based help.
- The need to overstaff ‘just in case’ is greatly reduced.
- Having access to a flexible at-home workforce allows businesses to add and reduce trained staff quickly as needed.
Reduces Unpredictable Traffic Related Tardiness
- Traffic jams rob the U.S. economy of $78 billion/year in productivity.
Ensures Continuity Of Operations In The Event Of A Disaster
- Federal workers are required to telework to the maximum extent possible for this reason.
- Bird flu, terrorism, roadway problems, and weather-related disasters are all drivers.
- Three-quarters of teleworkers say they could continue to work in the event of a disaster compared with just 28% of non-teleworkers.
Improves Performance Measurement Systems
- Peter Drucker, Six Sigma, and management experts agree that goal setting and performance measurement is key to successful management.
For telecommuting to work, employees must be measured by what they do, not where or how they do it.
Offers Access To Grants and Financial Incentives
- A number of states, including Virginia, Georgia, and Oregon offer financial incentives for businesses to adopt telework. Other states including Arizona, Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut offer free training to encourage companies to give it a try.
The Obstacles To Overcome When Planning Your Work At Home and Telecommuting Programs
- 75% of managers say they trust their employee, but a 33% say they’d like to be able to see them, just to be sure.
- Company culture must embrace the work-from-home concept at all levels.
- From Peter Drucker’s introduction of Management-By-Objectives in the mid-1950’s to Six Sigma which was popularized by General Electric’s Jack Welch in the 1990’s, setting and measuring goals has long been held as the key to good management.
It’s Not For Everyone
- Telecommuters must be self-directed.They should be comfortable with technology or arrangements should be made for remote tech support should issues arise.
- They should have a defined home office space.
- Home-based employees need to understand that telecommuting is not a suitable replacement for daycare unless management approves scheduling work hours around their family’s needs.
Career Fears From ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ Mentality
- Some employees cite career fears as a reason not to telecommute.
- Successful teleworking programs overcome the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issues with performance-based measurement systems, productivity versus presentism attitudes.
- Teleworkers who maintain regular communications (telephone, email, instant chat, even the occasional face-to-face meeting) with traditional co-workers and managers find career impact is not an issue.
- Employees need to understand why they were or were not chosen for work-from-home or telecommuting.
- Employees should see telework as a benefit that is earned, not guaranteed.
- Standards for the selection of participants should be uniform.
- Security issues are easy to solve, but must be addressed.
- 90% of CIOs and senior leaders charged with security in large organizations feel that home-based workers are not a security concern. In fact, they are more concerned with the occasional work that is taken out of the office by traditional employees who lack the training, tools, and technologies to protect laptops from viruses or information from being secure.
- Security training should be provided for all employees.
IT Infrastructure Changes May Be Necessary
- Telecommuters need access to company systems, software, and data.
- Infrastructure changes that support telework improve efficiency for office and traveling employees as well.
- Companies need to address remote technical support issues and off-the-shelf solutions and services that may exist.
- Some managers feel that distance inhibits collaboration. They feel the need for the ‘energy in the room’ when a crisis occurs.
- Some cities, notably New York, impose taxes on home-based workers whether they work in the city or not. A Connecticut resident who works at home for a New York company owes taxes to both states.
Local zoning issues
- Some select communities and homeowner associations prohibit home offices.