Did you know that 52% of people around the world get to telecommute at least once a week!? You’ve probably come across the term telecommuting before, especially given the current state of affairs surrounding COVID-19, but what is telecommuting exactly?
We’re here to give you the run-down of telecommuting – what it is, why companies offer it to their employees and the pros and cons of this working arrangement.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
What Is Telecommuting?
What is telecommuting? The term telecommuting, although it may sound like a very technical term, is actually a fairly simple concept. When an employee works from outside their employer’s office space, whether it be full time or part-time, it is referred to as telecommuting or teleworking. Employees who get to telecommute may work from home, a coffee shop or any other location that is not in the company’s office.
This definition comes from the fact that employees working from outside the office use telecommunication channels like phone, email, video conferencing tools, internet and apps to complete their work remotely. Telecommuting can also mean to work from home, to work from a mobile office or to work from a cafe while they’re traveling.
Essentially, telecommuting is the ability to work from home or any other space that is not your original place of employment. Although “remote work” and “telecommuting” are often used interchangeably, remote work implies that there is some significant geographical distance between the employee and their place of employment.
Why Do Companies Offer Telecommuting?
Telecommuting is offered by companies in a wide variety of industries including technology, health care, education and even retail! With significant advancements in technology for remote communication made over the last decade, file sharing, internet access, and other technological communication options have become abundant and reliable.
Coupled with the significant benefits of telecommuting, these advancements have encouraged many companies to offer telecommuting opportunities to their employees.
While some companies may be hesitant to offer telecommuting due to a perceived lack of productivity, studies have shown that employees who work from home are actually more productive than in-office employees!
According to a study conducted by Airtasker, employees working remotely work, on average, 1.4 more days than employees who are in the office. In addition, in-office employees have a total of 37 minutes of unproductive time per day while remote workers have only 27 minutes, on average.
Interested in the types of companies offering to telecommute? Here are some examples:
Surprisingly, UnitedHealth Group, a healthcare company, UnitedHealth Group answers the question of “what is telecommuting” with shining colours.
This American health care company based out of Minnetonka, Minnesota offers health and wellness coaches and call center nurses the opportunity to work remotely, as well as product and medical directors.
Those working in the service industry are intimately equipped to answer the question of “what is telecommuting.” IT staff, customer service representatives and sales staff usually have the option of working from home
Working Solutions is a customer service agency that offers exactly that. Sales rep and travel agents are offered the ability to telecommute and work remotely.y
What are the Pros and Cons of Telecommuting?
While there are many positive aspects of telecommuting, for both employers and employees, there are also challenges that come with remote work. Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether telecommuting is right for you or your business.
Benefits of Telecommuting
- Reduced overhead costs – having employees in an office can be costly. Food, beverages, water, heat, lights and other costs associated with an employee working in the office can all be decreased with remote workers.
- Improved job satisfaction – the increased satisfaction that employees report when working from home results in increased retention and company loyalty.
- Greater productivity – for the most part, employees working from home are found to be more productive, overall, than those working in the office.
- Prevents the spread of illness – without having a group of employees in close quarters, companies can save on lost productivity that results from the spread of illness in their workplace.
- Improved job satisfaction – employees who telecommute have consistently been found to report increased job satisfaction.
- Save money on transportation costs – without having to commute, remote employees can save money on transportation, parking, fuel, etc.
- Flexible schedule – working from home allows employees to juggle their schedule with other commitments including appointments, friends and family engagements.
- Reduced stress – working in an office can be stressful. Interpersonal issues, increased pressure from superiors and others, among other factors, can result in high stress levels within an office.
- Ability to work and travel at the same time – with the ability to take their work with them wherever they go, people who work from home often have the option to work and travel.
Negatives of Telecommuting
- Potential security breaches – with files and communication being shared over networks, an increased risk of security infringement can be a worry for organizations.
- Lack of collaboration – a lack of collaboration between coworkers may result in less creativity, among other things.
- Lack of direct contact – without face-to-face contact, communication can sometimes be difficult and may become frustrating for superiors and their employees.
- Decreased supervision – although not necessary in all cases, managers may find it more difficult to supervise and manage their employees who work remotely.
- Difficulty achieving work-life balance – employees who telecommute often find it difficult to manage a work-life balance due to the fact that their work is with them 24/7.
- Isolation and loneliness – without coworkers to interact with, telecommuters may find themselves isolated from others.
- Increased costs associated with communication methods and location – telecommuting can result in increased costs for an employee. Costs including internet, phone, lighting, heating and even coffee may not be covered for employees working remotely.
Key Takeaways for Telecommuting
For the most part, telecommuting appears to be something that is here to stay and will continue to be on the rise due to its benefits for both employers and employees.
Decreased costs, improved job satisfaction, increased productivity and decreased down time due to illness are some of the reasons employers find telecommuting to be beneficial to their organization. On the other hand, remote employees benefit from reduced transportation related costs, increased job satisfaction, a flexible schedule, reduced workplace stress and the ability to travel and work.
When determining whether or not your company would like to offer telecommuting positions or even if you, as an employee, would like to work remotely, it’s important to consider both the pros and the cons of this work arrangement. Consider the field you