Telecommuting is a popular option for employees of both large and small businesses. New meeting, messaging and collaboration tools mean that working from home can now be highly productive. But before adopting a remote workforce, your company should consider its benefits and drawbacks.
Let’s dive into telecommuting – and the tools that support a remote team.
Benefits of telecommuting
Employees like remote work. They really like it. But working from home isn’t just good for your team. Your business will see benefits, too.
A remote workforce is:
- More productive. A Stanford study found that remote team members work full shifts or more. In-office workers are often late to the office or leave the office early. The study also found that remote workers took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days and took less time off.
- Less costly. Your business can reduce operating costs with few (or no) employees in the office. For example, healthcare brand Aetna lets about half of its employees work from home. This flexible option has saved them about US$78 million (£62 million) per year in office costs.
- Happier. Commutes and office environments can be stressful. Employees are delighted when they can skip daily train journeys and harsh office lighting. FlexJobs found that 77% of respondents would have better health with a flexible job, and 86% would be less stressed. Happy, healthy workers stay with your business longer – and work harder.
- More eco-friendly. Your business might want to lower its carbon footprint. Transportation accounts for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions. Working from home reduces the amount of petrol employees use to get to work. These savings help protect the environment.
- Easier to hire. When businesses search for job candidates nationwide, they have a larger talent pool to select from outside their local area.
Drawbacks of telecommuting
There are a lot of benefits of remote working, but there are some reasons you may not want employees to work from home, too.
- Distractions. Employees may not have suitable workspaces at home. They may have a small flat or noisy neighbours. There may be local construction work happening on their street or they may not have efficient heating systems to stay warm during winter. Or it may cost too much for them to work at their local coffee shop every day. These are not ideal remote working conditions.
- Unmatched characters. Many teams, such as sales, hire energetic, extroverted workers. These team members may not thrive at home. However, video calls and chat channels can help provide the social work culture they need.
- Security concerns. Remote workers may have weak internet security at home. In some cases, they may work at a local café over an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Nevertheless, there are ways to lower these risks. Provide VPNs and secure Wi-Fi hotspots to team members who use sensitive data. At the same time, consider extra computer security, too.
- Tech problems. Your remote workforce may run into problems when they have tech glitches. Without an in-person IT team, they will need to troubleshoot hardware and software issues online or in a local shop.
- Less oversight. Many people thrive when they work from home. But some don’t. Managers can’t walk past a remote employee’s desk to see how they’re getting on. Instead, they will have to track their team’s progress through project quality and status reports. For some managers, this can be frustrating.
Tools for successful telecommuting
A few tools will help employees work from home with ease. (Other tools can help you manage your remote team, too.)
Your remote workforce will need:
- Access to company files. You need to store all team files in a shared location. A cloud storage provider allows your team to access key files from whereverer they are on all their devices. Cloud storage ensures your remote workforce is always on the same page.
- File-sharing and collaboration. Team members need the capability to securely share files, too. A secure file-sharing provider allows teams to share projects and work on them together in real-time. That is to say, it empowers remote workers to make quick progress on large projects.
- Teamwork tools. Finally, team members need a way to connect throughout the day. A teamwork tool should allow your remote workforce to chat, meet, call and work together in a central hub. A robust remote communication tool will help your team members build a strong, effective bond.
Both you and your workers can benefit from telecommuting. Remote work boosts output and employee happiness. It also lowers your office costs and carbon footprint. With the right tools, your remote workers won’t just perform well – they will thrive.