Teleworking: The Pros and Cons of Working From Home
More companies and government agencies have incorporated teleworking as a part of the work culture. Teleworking, also referred to as telecommuting, basically allows employees to work from home and have remote access to the office network. Your desktop or laptop will appear as it does at work. Some employers also provide employees with laptops, cell phones, and tablets to facilitate a more mobile-friendly work environment. Employees also communicate through email and teleconferencing.
Teleworking is viewed as the wave of the future for companies looking to increase production and reduce costs. My job recently started allowing teleworking two days a week. I must say, it has made some of the more difficult aspects of the job a little more tolerable. Teleworking provides so many benefits that even companies with traditional policies are embracing the concept.
Gas/Traffic- Working from home saves money on gas. Teleworking two days per week can save employees hundreds of dollars per year as well as wear and tear on vehicles.
Teleworking can alleviate some of the hassle heavy traffic at least a couple days per week. This is a great option for employees that live the furthest from the central office.
Flexibility- Teleworking provides additional flexibility. Working from home provides a more flexible schedule than the traditional work environment. This is an added advantage for employees with children. Depending on the employer’s policy, employees can obtain remote access to the office network from just about anywhere. Teleworking can be done anywhere from the living room couch or from your child’s soccer practice depending on your schedule.
Fewer Distractions- Teleworking “should” decrease the typical distractions incurred in the office setting. If you’re like me, the morning trip to the water cooler or coffee machine often turns into one or two conversations about the weekend, the kids, etc. It also turns into 15 to 20 minutes wasted.
Cost Effective- Teleworking can be a significant cost saving measure for both the employer and the employee. Teleworking can reduce costs in the following ways:
*Teleworking can potentially limit the amount of office space needed for employees.
*More employees working from home should result in long-term reduction in the amount of energy and resources in the office. There is usually less paper, ink, electricity, and water usage when employees are allowed to work from home.
*As discussed earlier, teleworking saves money for the employees with less gas usage and less wear on vehicles.
Office Space- Teleworking reduces the need for office space. More office space can be shared when employees are able to work from home.
Employee Morale- Offering the option to telework typical results in an overall increase in employee’s morale. When companies provide additional options, employees tend to be more willing to work a little harder to get the job done.
Increased Productivity- The ability to complete from anywhere and anytime should naturally increase productivity. Limited excuses for getting stuck in traffic and instant access the network should also increase productivity.
Encourages a Safer Environment-Teleworking can also reduce the number of sick people coming into the office. Workers can have the option to work from home if they are under the weather. This can potentially prevent the spread of illnesses in the office. They can also be productive without using sick leave hours.
Less Contact with Co-Workers- I have this listed as a disadvantage. However, I guess it really depends on how you feel about your co-workers. Most of the time, we enjoy the company of our co-workers and teleworking takes away some of the personal contact we have with colleagues.
Less access to office equipment- Employees don’t have access to all of the equipment at the central office. Depending on the nature of the job, sensitive information should not be faxed or copied on home office equipment.
Discipline- Employees who telework have to demonstrate a great deal of self-discipline. Teleworking doesn’t mean sit at home in pajamas, watch television, etc. In order to be successful, employees should prepare as if they are going to the office.
Self-discipline is also needed to maintain a good balance between work and personal life. Although it may be tempting to get up late at night and finish that last report, I would let it go if it’s not due tomorrow. (I’m guilty of this one myself).
Initial Costs- Teleworking requires some initial start-up costs. The cost of laptops, cell phones, and other equipment needed for remote access can be really expensive.
Trust Issues- We all know there’s always one apple that can spoil the bunch. Companies have to trust that their employees have enough respect for themselves and their co-workers to complete work assignments. Telework days should not be mistaken for free days off or shopping days. They should NEVER be mistaken for days off to work your part-time job. Although employers can utilize GPS and other tracking mechanisms, there is really no way to completely track an employee’s every move.
As you can see teleworking has very few negative aspects. It can make life so much easier for employees that live a long distance from the office. However, employers must have a great deal of trust in their employees. More companies will move to teleworking to increase flexibility and productivity. In addition, teleworking has proven to increase employee morale and job satisfaction.
Is teleworking an option in your workplace?
Is teleworking a positive aspect of the work environment?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Martin D Gardner