Telecommuting Should Be Carefully Planned

February 7th, 2017 by

Telecommuting, often referred to as “working from home,” is not for everyone or for every company.  There are pros and cons for both the company and for the employee that must be considered in order to be successful.

Employees interested in telecommuting imagine a definite benefit to having the ability to literally “come to work” each day in their pajamas.  However, many telecommuters fail to notice they can often work an average of 10-12 hours each day should they also work during their normal commute time.  Management sees an opportunity for increased productivity when telecommuting is offered to the workforce, yet may sacrifice some creative thinking as a result of less collaboration among team members.

Before instituting a policy on telecommuting, careful thought is required.  Although research has shown telecommuting provides for lower job-related stress, improved performance and greater job satisfaction, these positives do not happen for everyone.

Some workers who telecommute actually miss the face-to-face interaction with their co-workers and their management. Other trade-offs which can occur with telecommuting include increased productivity vs longer work days, greater independence vs less collaboration, and more flexibility with family and work vs blurred boundaries of the two.

As a company, some other factors to consider include:

  • Are employees allowed to decide if they telecommute?
  • How much are employees allowed to control their schedules?
  • Is an employee’s work interdependent on the work of others?
  • What are the current relationships with co-workers and supervisors?

Still, after some careful consideration and planning, a successful telecommuting implementation can be a powerful recruiting and retention tool.  Telecommuting opportunities can also open the door for a diverse and truly global workforce by taking advantage of available collaboration technology.

If your company decides to incorporate telecommuting, as an HR manager you’ll want to stay in the know. Ask managers who have telecommuters these types of questions –  How do your telecommuters separate their home life from work life? Do they have established “office” hours? Do they have a work environment conducive for a dedicated workspace? How do you keep the lines of communication open? Understanding the answers to these types of questions will help HR with the broader view of how telecommuting impacts your particular organization. Learn more about how CAI helps 1,100+ North Carolina member companies with HR, Compliance & People Development Solutions.  

CAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

One Response to “Telecommuting Should Be Carefully Planned”

  1. Ann says:

    As someone who worked remote for 10 years, full-time, I agree that you work harder and longer days. The plus side is there are no distractions – I am back in an office environment now and there are distractions galore! However, working from home is NOT for everyone. It take about one year to full adapt, and at that point, if you still find it’s not for you, it will never be. If you are able to adapt and readjust your life to this, it is great! You have to be disciplined to ignore that “other part of your office” – your home. You have to set a designated space, and you also have to get out for a walk or a run to the grocery store for 15 minutes for social stability. You also have to realize that because you work from home, your work is always there – set boundaries and a work-life balance. The whole pajama thing can be a nice perk, but realize that you will work harder and more independently than ever before. For me, I prefer it and didn’t mind working my “commuting hours.” I cannot see why any company would discourage it – it provides a financial and morale benefit like no other if done correctly. Trust your employees to be adults – if you can’t, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

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