Telecommuting, also called telework, teleworking, working from home, mobile work, remote work, and flexible workplace, is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store. It’s a formerly uncommon practice, but recent events have brought telecommuting to the spotlight. For some teams it has turned into a temporary solution, but for many people, it is becoming the new normal. Telecommuting and work remotely opens the doors of possibility in today’s workforce.

All you need to begin implementing telecommuting for your team is Wi-Fi, email, and a reliable business phone system. Of course, there are many professions are must go into their office, some of them being healthcare, manufacturing, retail & food services, and delivery drivers.

Pros & Cons of Telecommuting

Full and part-time remote workers can have a varied or set work schedule, depending on their duties and ability to be flexible. Unlike freelancing, telecommuting or remote work refers to a work arrangement between a set employer and their employees in many different departments. Some of the section of work that can be done from a remote location include:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Design
  • Information Technology
  • and more

Benefits of Telecommuting

Telecommuting benefits both the employees and the employers. We’ve gone over many advantages in previous blog posts such as this one. The top advantages of telecommuting include:

  • Higher employee satisfaction 
  • Better work-life balance
  • Positive affects on mental health
  • Greater flexibility
  • Reduced operational & building costs
  • Lower employee expenses
  • Higher productivity 
  • Zero commuting and a smaller carbon footprint

Telecommuters get to trade in that horrible morning commute for a casual walk to their workspace. They can trade expensive on the go coffee for a fresh pot of home brewed coffee. It may sound like a dream to many people, but there are some disadvantages to switching to a full telecommuting posititon.

Disadvantages of Telecommuting

Some smaller but still significant disadvantages that employees and employers face when the team is fully remote include:

  • Getting access to the correct technology
  • Being distracted or unmotivated at home
  • Security concerns
  • Lack of face-to-face communication & not leaving the house as much
  • Potential of feeling disconnected from team & world in general
  • Difficulty supervising/keeping track of team’s work load

Putting the right policies and procedures in place before you begin telecommuting can help minimize these drawbacks, as well as making sure that the supervisors/managers have an open line of communication with the team. With a good plan, frequent check-ins, video calls and conferences, and a steady workflow, most or all of these disadvantages can be eliminated.

How It Works

Telecommuting allows for businesses and organizations to communicate and collaborate without being in the same building. But how exactly does the behind the scenes of telecommuting work?

The Workspace

One of the most fortunate things about today’s society is that you can find WiFi almost everywhere. Since professionals today are using laptops and smart phones for most or all of their work, it’s important to be able to stay connected. Even in you don’t have stable WiFi in your home, a lot of people can have the opportunity to work from places such as coffee shops, libraries, coworking spaces, and even parks that offer WiFi, or using the Hot Spot on their mobile devices. Having a mobile place to go other than home can help remote workers not feel so cooped up and hidden away from society. It can definitely get old sleeping, eating, and working all in the same space.Third places include coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, and coworking spaces. A coworking space is a shared office space where telecommuters pay by the month or day. Besides the social benefits, they also score access to a desk, internet, and other amenities.

Project Management Tools

Having a virtual project management tool can be extremely useful in keeping your team connected, on track, and all on the same page. Your team leader/leaders can create specific tasks in a cloud-based project manager like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp, for example. Everyone has access to all the details, deadlines, and material they need anytime, anywhere. Here at CallHarbor, we like to use Trello, where it’s easy to see all of the projects being handled, who is handling them, and at what stage they are in.

Another great platform to use is Google Drive, Google Docs, and many other Google tools. Especially if your company email is through Google, it’s an easy platform for collaboration that everyone can utilize. Assigned employees receive notifications for updates and milestones so nothing slips through the cracks. 

Communication Tools

Using an online communication tool is an easy way for your employees to check-in and collaborate without being in the same place. CallHarbor uses Slack as our day to day communication tool. You can utilize it for casual conversation, check-ins, questions, and so much more. Threads keep all comments organized in separate channels for different types of messages. It’s an easy way to keep everyone connected, no matter the time zone or zip code.

Why Telecommuting Matters

Telecommuting helps everyone involved in multiple ways, from money to productivity and everywhere in between.

Saving Money

Telecommuting saves money for everyone involved. Companies and organizations can downsize to a smaller, less expensive office, and will also save money on operational costs and office supplies too. The statistics show that employers can actually save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. That’s PER telecommuter, and only working half-time! Imagine how much money your company could save by utilizing the ability to work remotely even more.

As far as being a telecommuter goes, the employees also save money. Telework Research Network’s calculations say that a typical telecommuter could save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year by working from home.

Increased Productivity

A personalized work environment, free of office distractions can create efficient employees. Check out these facts & figures:

  • Over 90% of employees feel more productive working at home.
  • Work-at-home teams log four more hours of work per week than their in-house counterparts.
  • 85% of businesses saw higher employee output after making the switch to telework.
  • 50% of remote workers took fewer sick days.

Employee Retention

Over 75% of employees say that flexible working schedules and remote work capability is the #1 best non-monetary way to keep staff. We all know that a happy employee is a loyal employee, so that speaks for itself when it comes to employee retention.

The Future of Telecommuting

Did you know that experts predict that 73% of all teams will hire remote workers by 2028? The working world is constantly changing, and remote work is climbing higher and higher on the list of “normals.”

The rise in remote working also means the rise in cloud-based technologies. Instead of scrambling to find the best unified communications when you want to switch to remote work, start looking into the switch now, so your team is more prepared in the future! Even if you don’t want to switch to fully remote working teams, it’s always an amazing option to offer employees the ability to work remotely every once in a while.