Should a business offer telecommuting options to its employees? There are a lot of misconceptions about virtual workforces out there that can make the concept seem inadvisable, such as:
- Employees who work from home cannot be supervised and will not work as hard.
- Telecommuting increases technology problems.
- Sensitive data is more likely to be compromised.
However, while there are some valid concerns, if managed correctly, there are many benefits to having a virtual workforce which can far outweigh any potential downsides.
8 Reasons Why Virtual Workforces Work
Here are eight of the reasons why virtual workforces can benefit your business:
1. Employees are happier.
A recent study found that in comparison with employees who came into the office, at-home workers were happier and less likely to quit. Higher job satisfaction also leads to:
- Increased productivity.
- Decreased stress.
- Fewer mistakes.
Megan M. Biro wrote an article for Forbes that points out that happy employees are more productive and that means more revenue for businesses.
2. Employees have fewer absences
Many of the reasons an employee may take an absence could be avoided by offering at least some telecommuting options.
For example, an employee who works any distance from the workplace may need to take a day or a half day in order to go to an event that takes place too shortly after the workday. Think about the following hypotheticals.
- Employee A’s daughter has an important game at 5:30. To get there, he would have to leave the office at 3:30-4. However, he could leave his house at 5:15. Without telecommuting, he may decide to take a half day off in order to make sure he makes it.
- Employee B has a dentist appointment near their home which is an hour drive from the office. The dentist only holds appointments during regular business hours, so missing time at work is a necessity. Employee B would have to travel to and from the appointment, resulting in a 3-hour break from work. If they can work from home that day, they would only miss an hour.
There are other ways that telecommuting can decrease absences too. Employees with colds can be extra cautious and work from home while avoiding office-wide illness outbreaks.
3. Employees are motivated to work harder.
When an employee is offered a benefit that he or she does not want to lose, they work to ensure they can keep it. Because of this, offering telecommuting options can actually lead to harder working employees, rather than the opposite. A good employee will be motivated to perform quality work regardless of the level of “supervision” and should be trusted to handle a remote work situation. If they can’t, they probably aren’t an ideal employee to have around anyway.
4. The candidate field opens up.
When employees have to physically be in the workplace, they must reside within the commuting area of the office. However, when they can work from anywhere, suddenly the entire country or even world is opened up as a talent pool from which to recruit.
The larger the reach, the better the chances of getting a great employee. So if it is possible to hire a great employee a thousand miles away instead of an okay employee 20 miles away, why wouldn’t you want to do so?
5. It attracts better candidates.
This is similar to the last point, but is a little different. Not only will the employer get to expand its reach, but by allowing telecommuting, better candidates want to apply.
In this day and age, potential employees are able to shop around and see which companies will be employers of choice. The best employees are the ones that can afford to be the most choosy, and if they want flexible work options, then it helps to offer that to them.
6. Flexibility helps keep better employees.
See #1. If the company creates happy, satisfied employees, they are more likely to stay with the company.
7. Virtual workers can be incorporated into a more traditional workforce.
Workforces can be combinations of both virtual and traditional workforces. You don’t have to offer telecommuting options to all employees; in fact, there are some jobs which simply don’t work as a virtual job position. Here are some ways to blend traditional on-site workforces with virtual ones:
- Positions that require in-office resources or face-to-face interaction should remain on-site.
- Telecommuting can be offered on a part-time (ex. one day a week) or as-needed (ex. kid sick at home) basis.
- If this is a benefit the employer feels needs to be earned, then it can be offered only to employees who have enough seniority or a proven track record of success and productivity.
8. A virtual workforce is just as easy to manage as a more traditional workforce.
All workforces have potential pitfalls. Data can be breached, workers can slack, and technology can malfunction. However, when managed correctly with the right tools and resources, managing a virtual workforce does not have to be harder than managing a more traditional workforce. And there are a lot of tools and resources to make this possible:
- Video conferences
- Chat services
- Cloud services
- Security features
- Monitoring functions
Cloud teleconferencing services and Internet that is always-on are a must for keeping these critical functions up and running. If you’re interested in bringing in virtual workers into your traditional workforce, you may want to consider Always-On Internet and AllCloud solutions from Allied Telecom
There are many reasons that virtual workforces not only work, but actually help businesses. In this modern world, it is important to keep up with the changes. Many employees appreciate the flexibility of working from home and it opens up the candidate field. Don’t let misconceptions keep your business from exploring telework as an option for your workforce.