“This is a telecommuting position.” Prepare to read this phrase a lot in the near and even distant future. If working from home was on the rise before the Covid-19 pandemic entered our lives, at the moment it’s a one-way street for many countries all over the world.
Telecommuting's advantages and disadvantages are a common subject of discussion. Some of them affect mostly employers, others have a bigger effect on employees’ lives, and some others will bring about change in other areas.
In all this, the big winners seem to be the businesses that have an affinity with technology since virtual collaboration and management have become the norm. Fintech companies, project-oriented teams, and hi-tech corporations are likely to find their way out of the labyrinth much easier.
Let’s explore all the different telecommuting advantages and disadvantages that the modern workforce and employers will have to take into consideration.
Advantages of telecommuting
Let’s start with the good news first. Work from home comes with benefits for both parties. So much so, that many companies are thinking about making it a permanent arrangement — with a big part of the workforce seconding this idea.
The rise in employee productivity
According to research by Gartner.com, 88% of businesses have supported employees that prefer to work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak. At the same time, the Asian and Pacific business market is as innovative as ever. It introduces a telecommuting policy to facilitate the employees’ work as much as possible.
Forbes published that an American company had witnessed the work performance of their employees increase by 47%. Numbers speak for themselves: telecommuting takes off the table long hours in traffic, procrastinating talks with colleagues on projects, and sources of office distractions. At home, employees can manage their workload better and devote more time to actually work. An increase in productivity is beneficial for employees as well as employers. The work is done more efficiently, so everyone is happy.
Time-tracking, productivity, and project management tools are and will continue to be an integral part in order for telecommuting to work. With their help, managers and employers will have an overview of time, teamwork, and project costs. This way, they will have the right means to stay financially stable and strengthen their virtual teams.
Better employee retention
A major issue in the pre-COVID era was employee turnover. Especially for people who always wanted to work from home, leaving a position to chase remote work opportunities was commonplace. Under the current circumstances, employees that would otherwise quit, find the right balance between work and personal life through the telecommuting policy.
According to Gartner.com, employers believe that 75% of their workforce will ask to work remotely by 35%. WFH helps employees be more relaxed, less stressed, and more content with their jobs. As for employers, they are saved from the trouble of hiring and training new employees.
This point does not affect employers or employees directly, but the environment we live in. No commuting means lower fuel emissions, which is a tremendous relief for our climate. If companies establish a telecommuting policy for the years to come, the benefits will multiply.
According to the Global Workforce Analytics estimations, greenhouse emissions can be decreased by 54 million tons for every year that employees work from home only half of the workdays. Telecommuting also requires no office spaces, which means fewer energy utilities and supplies.
Reduction of operational costs
For an employer, saving the environment is a great cause, but cutting down on business costs is godsent. Companies can save a lot of money on rent, utilities, renovations, meals, office supplies, and other variable and overhead costs. According to flexjobs.com, 77% of employers think that the telecommuting policy can lead to a substantial decrease in operational costs.
Disadvantages of telecommuting
In reality, most of the disadvantages of remote working are not unsolvable. They are just remnants of a more traditional approach to working. New technologies can help streamline work processes, protect remote workers from cyber threats, and increase transparency. The only thing technology cannot replicate or replace is human interaction, which is the true disadvantage of the telecommuting policy.
Lack of direct team supervision
The first disadvantage of telecommuting is that employers, managers, and team leaders cannot actually see what other employees are doing. This means that businesses need to use project management software to delegate and monitor tasks efficiently to ensure transparency and visibility and ensure that every employee delivers their tasks in a timely fashion.
Reduction in productivity
Also listed as a benefit, employee productivity can go either way during telecommuting. Some employees simply cannot work well from home, especially first-timers. The most common reasons are distractions caused by members of the family, inability to view the home as a working space, and lack of motivation.
A drop in employee productivity can be solved if managers and employers establish productivity goals. This will help employees get motivated and reminded that, although they work from home, they should keep up the same pace.
Moreover, businesses should use digital communication tools to continue working “traditions” like brainstorming, project meetings, one-on-one discussions, and growth sessions. All these digitally-enabled processes will make sure that innovation and purpose are not out of the picture.
Cybersecurity is a crucial parameter of smooth business operations. Companies build IT teams to protect their and their client's data from prying eyes. Password, network, browser, and email security should always be taken care of by businesses.
When working from home, the game changes. Employees should have a secure Wi-Fi network, use a VPN, and use encrypted communication. Generally, they should be careful about how they deal with data and devices. For this reason, offer brief training on cybersecurity to educate employees on common threats to watch out for and best practices to follow.
A great example is the latest Covid-19 phishing campaign. Hackers lured people with financial compensation and guided them to scam Office sign-in pages. Thankfully, the 19 campaign domains are under control by Microsoft, to protect people worldwide from those hackers.
Loss of work/life balance
Our last telecommuting disadvantage concerns mostly employees. Working from home might sound like heaven, but some people find it hard to separate personal and professional life. The telecommuting policy does not make things any easier, since no one will stop you from working all day long.
Lunch breaks short walks around the office, and little snacks are necessary intermissions to rest your mind. So, if you are living alone and working even harder than before the COVID-19 pandemic, rethink your priorities and start taking care of yourself. Eat healthily, drink water, walk, and take breaks. Turn off your laptop and don’t check your email after the end of the business. Burnout is not for in-office employees. It can also plague employees at home too if they keep working long hours.
Telecommuting's advantages and disadvantages are not the same for every member of the team. Employers should tend to employees’ problems, choose the best collaboration and management tools, and educate themselves on effective working practices. Then, managing projects and teamwork productivity will seem like a child’s play.