Make us your home page
Instagram

Telecommuting benefits and drawbacks

Telecommuting can take many forms, so what are some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of the practice?

The benefits of telecommuting

For the employer:

• Cost savings on offices and parking.

• Travel costs (both to and from work offices, from other sites or even from home).

• Lower equipment costs (when employees work at home, many of them use their own computers, phones, faxes, paper, etc.).

• Relocation costs (if you are hiring new employees, you might not need to pay to relocate them).

• Retention of talented employees who are trying to juggle work, family and other obligations, or who might want to work in a different location.

For the employee:

• Savings of time and money because they do not have to travel to and from work.

Savings in parking fees, gas and car maintenance.

• Avoiding commuting stress.

• More opportunities (you are no longer tied to one location).

• Greater productivity (because of fewer interruptions and more total time to work).

• More flexibility managing daily life.

• Less exposure to people who come to work sick.

• Savings from purchasing fewer work-related clothes, shoes, accessories, etc.

The downsides of telecommuting

For the employer:

• Lack of oversight and the potential for employees to shirk duties.

• Security concerns (not all jobs allow for sensitive work to be transferred to home computers).

• Departmental morale might suffer, especially if some employees are allowed to telecommute and others are not allowed.

• Loss of on-site brainstorming.

• Need to provide appropriate technology to work at home.

For the employee:

• Isolation. Some employees may no longer feel connected to others at work.

• Loss of clear boundaries between work and home.

• Accomplishments can be harder to showcase.

• You may lack the discipline and drive to work on your own.

Potential loss of direction from the boss.

• • •

Given the pros and cons of telecommuting, what's a firm to do? First, recognize that not all firms or jobs are well suited to having telecommuting options (for example, elementary school teachers, factory workers or positions requiring security clearances). Also, it is important to understand your firm's industry and what your competitors are doing. If all of your top competitors allow employees to telecommute and you don't allow it, that could hurt your ability to hire talent.

Second, remember that it doesn't have to be "all or none." It's possible that some amount of telecommuting in a job (one or two days a week working at home) may still enable both employers and employees to experience some of the pros of telecommuting without all the cons. Some employers are clear about what days they need people in the office or what specific hours employees should be available for meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Third, give a realistic preview to employees who might be telecommuting so they can make sure they are suited to this type of work — they need to be self-starters and self-disciplined. Not everyone will want to telecommute. I've coached many people who specifically state that "going to an office" is better suited to their personality.

Fourth, draft specific guidelines and policies for telecommuting in the workplace, and be sure there is a clear monitoring system.

Finally, train employees on how to document performance while working at home and train managers on how to oversee that performance. Make sure SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound) goals are defined and a good performance measurement system is being used by the firm.

Telecommuting benefits and drawbacks 04/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]