by Ma. Glaiza Lee
At this day and age, it is now possible for employees to work without actually leaving home.
With the popularity of email and internet, more and more companies are starting to turn to telecommuting to cut expenditures. This allows employees to manage and balance their work and family life, while at the same time help the environment by reducing carbon footprint and energy use. It is now common to see people accept full-time or part-time employment from home, engaging in varied jobs such as editing web content, writing research papers, teaching English to foreigners, lay outing magazine or brochure, among others.
Basically, working from home for an outside employer is called telecommuting. It is different from running your home-based business or pursuing a passion like writing and composing.
But is telecommuting the future of business? Is it really the best solution for any businesses?
With the nerve-wracking cost of gasoline, increasing public transport fares, changing power and staffing costs and skyrocketing prices of commodities, telecommuting seems like a viable option.
Some experts think that telecommuting improves employee satisfaction. They perceive that most employees are sick and tired of the rat race in the employment world and they want to take control of their lives by finding a balance between their work and family life.
With less unnecessary distractions, teleworkers perform much more effective than office workers. They increase their productivity and work with longer hours; about five more hours than those working right in the office. Unscheduled absences are also minimized. The flexible working schedule allows workers to run errands, attend family issues, and schedule appointments without losing a full day.
Companies can reduce attrition. Companies lose good money when they lose a valuable asset and when they recruit and train new hires that will take place of the vacant position. Some employers say that telecommuting improves employee retention.
By doing so, the companies save money. Since they don’t have to relocate employees, companies lessen their expenditures. They are able to save brick and mortar costs in industries where regulations or needs require local workers.
Also, when technology for telecommuting is already in place, the employees and companies can work together without having to think about the logistics and the cost of bringing all workers in one place for the conference meeting. With readily available communication technology, there is usually an increase in collaboration options.
Technology has become a great equalizer. By using this technology, the company will be able to expand their talent pools because it reduces geographical boundaries, provides access to disabled, gives alternative options to senior workforce, and offers geographic, socio-economic and cultural diversity. Discrimination can be avoidable as much as possible.
But like the coin, telecommuting has two sides. There are some huge “buts” on the other end.
While some managers trust their employees, a portion of them would like to see them just to be sure. Sometimes, management mistrust is unavoidable, especially when the telecommuting concept and culture has not been embrace at all levels.
On the other hand, some employees have the “out of sight, out of mind” preconception. They feel somehow disconnected with their employers. They fear that the company would overlook their performances. But some telecommuting companies have already installed performance-based measurement system, taking into consideration the productivity versus the presence.
Some think that it is harder to concentrate when they are at home. While you don’t have to work with officemates who chatter senselessly in every possible chance they can get and overbearing bosses, you still have to deal with the daily household challenges. Children sometimes can’t comprehend subtle hints such as locked doors and rebuffs. When maids are out, you have to deal with the bill collectors, delivery people, household emergencies, and surprise visits from relatives and friends.
Isolation can also be a major challenge. Working alone at home can make some people fall into a rut. Also, to some, distance can inhibit good collaboration between employees.
If you’re thinking of going into this kind of working environment, weigh the pros and cons. Remember, not everyone is cut out for telecommuting.