So should businesses be recruiting telecommuters?
There are many pros and cons to recruiting telecommuters but if done correctly, both telecommuters and businesses can benefit greatly.
1. Improved Productivity
A large number of jobs are knowledge based and require concentration.
As the following article, "Students don't thrive on collaboration" looks at, even though many feel that an open-plan office is great for brainstorming, studies have shown that they inhibit productivity.
Telecommuters can be more productive as they don't have the distraction of co-workers discussing last night's 'must see' television show, and can get on with complicated tasks in peace.
2. Reduced Costs
Businesses can take advantage of reduced office costs if they recruit telecommuters. With fewer staff using office space, businesses can reduce equipment, energy and catering costs.
By hiring telecommuters, businesses also reduce carbon emissions as fewer people are travelling to and from work.
3. Reduced Sickness Levels
Telecommuters aren't exposed to an office full of sick colleagues when flu season comes around so businesses and their clients can benefit from higher productivity due to lower sickness rates.
4. Access to More Talent
Hiring telecommuters widens the field of talent businesses can access.
Candidates such as caregivers and the disabled who may be restricted from some jobs which require travel, will now be available.
5. Low Staff Turnover Rates
Telecommuters are often happier employees as they are less exposed to office politics, don't have to endure travelling stresses, are less likely to be sick and can be available to family members when needed for example an elderly relative or children returning from school.
Face it; it is much easier to retain happier employees.
1. Harder to Maintain Team Morale
Telecommuters work remotely so it can be difficult to create and maintain a team feeling and they can get lonely.
However, businesses can easily overcome this by having regular face-to-face team meetings either in person or via video conferencing.
2. Harder to Collaborate
It can be more difficult to collaborate when staff is telecommuting. This is particularly difficult if team members reside in different countries.
However, by using collaborative web tools to file share in conjunction with conference or video call facilities, this issue can be mitigated.
3. Management Mistrust
Some managers feel that if they can't see their staff every day and monitor what they are doing, that their staff is not working. Companies can overcome this issue by ensuring their staff has clear objectives, and are rewarded based on results rather than on 'pre-senteeism' and are held to account for those results.
4. Data Security
This is a real issue for many companies for example financial institutions.
Businesses can avoid data leaks when hiring telecommuters by ensuring the telecommuters sign confidentiality agreements and are fully trained in information security. Businesses can also implement strong firewalls and insist on robust password protection rules.
Telecommuting is not for every job role but for most office based jobs; telecommuting is a viable and cost effective way of working.
Once the correct protections are put in place and clear objectives are established, the answer to 'should you be recruiting telecommuters' might be a resounding 'yes' for your business.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author: Nicola Gordon-Thaxter is an author who has telecommuted for over five years and writes on a variety of topics, including business, and recruitment.