Telecommuting is a popular option for employees of both large and small businesses. New meeting, messaging, and collaboration tools now mean that working from home can 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 fitting 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. Remote workers in the study also 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 $78 million per year in office costs.
- Happier. Commutes and office environments can be stressful. Employees are delighted when they skip daily drives and stark office lighting. FlexJobs found that 77% of respondents would have better health with a flexible job. Eighty-six percent 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 fuel employees spend getting 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 of their local area.
Drawbacks of telecommuting
There are a lot of benefits to remote work. But there are some reasons you might not want employees to work from home, too.
- Distractions. Employees may not have suitable workspaces at home. They might have a small apartment or noisy neighbors. There might be local construction down the street or poor AC during the summer. Or it might cost too much for them to work at their local coffee shop every day. These are not ideal work remotely conditions.
- Unmatched characters. Many teams, like sales, hire energetic, extroverted workers. These team members might not thrive at home. However, video calls and chat channels can help provide the social work culture they need.
- Security concerns. Remote workers might have weak internet security at home. In some cases, they may work at a local cafe 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 touch sensitive data. At the same time, consider extra computer security, too.
- Tech problems. Your remote workforce might 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 store.
- Less oversight. Many people thrive when they work from home. But some don’t. Managers can’t walk by a remote employee’s desk to check-in. 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 anywhere they are on all of 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.