Teleworking, also known as telecommuting, essentially means that employees do their work outside of the office, whether this is at home or at a co-working office.
A 2013 McCrindle study showed that almost half of Australians work from at least one location other than their own offices per week, meaning teleworking is becoming increasingly common. The study also demonstrated employees' wishes for more flexible working options, with 78 per cent expressing the desire to do at least some work at home and 80 per cent saying that they would be more likely to stay longer with an employer if the employer offered teleworking options.
But why should employers think about offering teleworking to their employees? For one, providing alternatives that make employees happy can increase satisfaction and encourage workers to stay. Secondly, studies have actually shown that allowing employees to work away from the office can improve a company's productivity and save it money. With the availability of cloud-based technology and the ability to stay in touch with employees via teleconferencing and web conferencing services, facilitating telecommuting is becoming a veritable no-brainer.
Improving employee satisfaction
In a Premiere Global Services (PGi) survey, the top three benefits of telecommuting according to Asia Pacific Japan workers were more flexible hours, better work-life balance and reduced commuting times. With regards to commuting, the PGi survey revealed that for 21 per cent of the global respondents, their commute is over 60 minutes per day, with 19 per cent reporting a 45-60 minute commute. Not only is commuting for lengthy distances disheartening for workers, it also wastes time that could be better spent in the office.
Overall, employees who telecommute tend to have higher job satisfaction than office workers according to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The study reports that the main benefit for telecommuters is the alleviation of work-life balance stresses and that generally, working outside the office relieves more stress than it creates.
Finally, it should be evident by now that having telecommuting as an option benefits employee happiness and satisfaction - but it can also improve their physical health. PCWorld makes the valid point that not requiring employees to gather together so often reduces the risk of spreading viruses, which results in more productivity due to less sick days.
Some employers might be worried that allowing employees to work from home could give them the opportunity to slack off or that the quality of their work might decrease due to more distractions. Indeed, these were exactly the concerns of Chinese call centre business Ctrip, the company at the centre of a 2015 study from Stanford University that showed how telecommuting can actually increase productivity and profit.
The study revealed that by allowing its employees to work from home, Ctrip created a 13 per cent increase in employee performance which translated into US $230 (AU$324) of savings per employee per year. Furthermore, including the savings from better performance in addition to further savings from reduced office costs and less turnover, Ctrip estimated that it now saves around US $1,900 (AU$2673) per employee per year by using telecommuting.
While telecommuting can definitely increase productivity and create savings, it is important to note that it's not always for everyone in the company. As Professor Nicholas Bloom, in an interview with the Harvard Business Review about the Stanford study, explains:
"Not everybody wants to or is disciplined enough to. At Ctrip, it was a self-selected group, so they were all motivated to work from home effectively, and that's how it should be."
Indeed, different work environments are more productive for different personalities and working styles. McCrindle found that introverts are 30 per cent more productive working from home than extroverts and that introverts are more likely to choose to work at home than extroverts.
With the ability to communicate with work via teleconference or web conference, employees can can get more done while working at home and still remain in contact with their work colleagues and employers.
Technology and infrastructure available
Finally, while employers may have been reluctant in the past to offer teleworking due to the necessity of providing the information, technology and communication necessary to complete tasks, in today's world, almost everything can be done remotely.
The availability of cloud-based productivity software such as Google Drive and information sharing platforms like Dropbox offer affordable ways to keep track of and share with employees away from the office.
Lastly, the availability of teleconferencing and web conferencing services in Australia means that employers can easily stay in touch with their workers. With the ability to connect even to mobile phones, teleconferencing allows employees to stay in contact no matter where they are. Contact Eureka Conferencing now to learn more about how teleconferences can make telecommuting a profitable decision.