Costs and Benefits
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Why would a company want to start a telework program?
There are two main reasons for a company to offer telework , but they can be combined in one answer: If done correctly, telework can benefit both the employee and the company.
In a 2006 national employer telework survey conducted by MITE–Midwest Institute for Telecommuting Education and Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, telework-friendly employer respondents indicated they would consider telework for several reasons, as seen in the table below. The majority of employers (73%) indicated telework helped them respond to specific employee needs. Stress is reduced, work is more enjoyable and easier, and a new sense of loyalty is developed for their jobs. Employees eliminate a daily commute or a frantic rush hour and regain a sense of control to effectively complete projects and balance work and life.
Telework also provides nice rewards for employers as well. Employee retention and increased productivity rated second and third, with other respondents identifying cost savings and reduced operations costs. These rationales were not necessarily exclusive of each other. For example, as employers responded to specific employee needs by providing telework options, they also may have been striving to retain that employee.
|Employer Rationales for Starting Telework
|Rationale (Employers could identify multiple responses)
|Respond to specific employee needs
|Recruit or retain valuable employee(s)
|Increase productivity and/or customer service
|Reduce overall opperations or occupancy costs
|Need to work with other remote teams
|Comply with ADA; increase workforce diversity
|Respond to emergency coverage or disaster recovery
|Respond to regional trip reduction requirements
The underlying fact was that telework, in most circumstances, enabled increased employee flexibility and more effective job performance, which directly and often indirectly, led to enhanced organizational productivity. Employees have increased job satisfaction, and less distractions in the office. Bottom line -- they are able to do more work in less time, and do it better. Employees also often reduce travel costs in both time and money. [top^]
What do I need in to have “in place” before offering telework?
The majority of telework friendly employers indicated that prerequisites to offer telework to current employees included a completed probationary period, in-office work experience and a core work schedule. For those organizations that had utilized telework, employers reported several telework support strategies to enable supervisors to better manage teleworkers in general, as seen in the table below.
|General Employer Strategies to Support Telework
|Telework Policies and Agreements
|Flexible work policies
|Remote access technology guidelines
|Formal training for Supervisors/teleworkers
Existing telework policies helped to set parameters such as eligibility, work schedule, technology requirements, work processes and performance reporting. However, research concluded that having a telework policy did not necessarily ensure that telework would be aggressively adopted. [top^]
Why doesn't everyone telework?
Quite simply, telework is not for everyone. Some people need the physical separation between work and home. Others cannot focus with the distractions inherent in working from home. Some employees find it easier to stay on track seated in their cubicle with daily office operations going on all around them. And, some people just don’t do well being alone for an entire day, Part-time telework, or having the flexibility to work at home periodically, often provides a good balance so employees can work without distractions. [top^]
What technology and office space should employers provide teleworkers at the corporate office?
Technology and office space should be part of the discussion between a supervisor and employee before telework is initiated. Companies are utilizing more laptop technology, as it is less cost-prohibitive than in years past. Depending on the amount of time spent teleworking, an employee may need a laptop, may already have one, or may share a laptop among office workers. If a laptop can be shared, it may allow others in the office to telework occasionally, too.
Teleworkers should have adequate space and equipment to do the work when in the office, but may not have the amount of space available in comparison to in-house employees. The supervisor can designate a space in which teleworkers can temporarily work. If a person is teleworking much of the time, they should still feel welcome and part of the team when he/she is in the office. Office sharing can also be implemented.
A more important issue is one of effective connectivity by the teleworker to the employer’s technology infrastructure. Teleworkers need to effectively interface with specific applications and data to perform their job tasks. Employers need guidelines regarding remote access and security. These guidelines will often require communication with the information technology division to ensure procedures are followed and teleworkers are able to log in to the system without major challenges. [top^]
Do teleworkers feel lonely working by themselves?
Most of the time, telework is the employee's idea. An employee who asks to telework is often the type of person that isn't bothered by working alone. However, as with anything that is new, teleworkers may discover that they need the daily contact with the other people in the office. Sometimes, even for those who like to telecommute, it does get a little bit lonely. Most teleworkers count on their time in the office as an opportunity to strengthen the social bonds that exist in good working relationships. [top^]