WORK FROM HOME – TELECOMMUTING
Yes, we are fighting a global crisis – COVID 19, and we’ll fight it down to come out strong. The global economy has gone for a toss overnight, and organizations are forced to choose an alternate way of work to reduce conflict of interest. What is that alternative?
It’s telecommuting or work from home. It was a method used to give leverage for employees undergoing family emergencies, medical emergencies etc. But in this pandemic situation, this method has proven to be a business saver, companies have taken their work process to an online mode. This, in turn, has helped organizations to get their work done and also they are abiding by the rules and regulations set for safety (Social distancing).
Is Work from Home an idle method for future business? Well, it’s fulfilling the need of the hour! Is what I will say. There are some positives and negatives associated with telecommuting.
What they are? Let’s surf through this article.
“Work is something you do, not something you travel to. Work is something you do, not a place you go. Work is what you do not where you are.”
“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” – Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin
“If we could be somewhere, experiencing the world in a beautiful setting while working, challenging ourselves, growing professionally, enjoying a community of like-minded people and connecting locally, what’s stopping us?” – Michael Youngblood, Founder of Unsettled
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
- 5 million U.S. employees that are 3.6 % of the total U.S. workforce, were working from home at least half the time even before the coronavirus outbreak.
- As compared to 2005, the rate of employees opting for remote work has grown by 173%. – Global Workplace Analytics.
- Half time telecommuter i.e. the people doing only 50% of their work remotely save 11 days a year in travel time alone.
- Full-time remote employment could save organizations $20,000 per employee.
- If at least 40% of the U.S. population opt for telecommuting – then nation would save 280,000,000 barrels of oil.
- An increase in the number of employees who are opting for telecommuting could save 3 billion tons of carbon pollution per year in the U.K.
- 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028.
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
The phrases “telecommuting”, “work from home”, “remote work”, “digital nomad”, “distributed teams”, “telework” are becoming more and trendier on internet.
What is telecommuting?
Telecommuting is defined as a work arrangement where the employees work outside the office which means employees work from home or close to homes such as co-working spaces, libraries or coffee shops. Telecommuting was introduced in the 1970s and is also known as telework, e-commuting, working from home (WFH) or working remotely. It gives more flexibility to an employee to balance work and personal obligations.
Telecommuting jobs or work from home jobs are now available nearly in every industry including Customer service, Sales and marketing, Information technology, Computing, Health care, Administration and Education. Employees, as well as employers, are demanding for remote work and due to this working remotely has become mainstream now.
Many employers started Virtual Coffee breaks and virtual happy hours which shows everyone is trying to adapt to this new way of work. Thanks to the technologies and advancement in infrastructure that took place over the past few decades, which indeed enabled us to work from home. Let’s check out the prerequisites necessary for remote workplace setup.
What technologies are needed to work from home?
- Hardware for Telecommuters: Desktop/Laptop, Router, Headset, Microphone.
- Tools for team communication: Microsoft teams, Slack.
- Tools for video conferencing: Zoom, Skype for business, Cisco WebEx, Google handouts.
- Tools for project management: JIRA, Basecamp, Trello.
- Tools for time management: MyAnalytics(Microsoft), Toggl, Timely.
- Tools for noise removal: Krisp, Coffitivity, Noisy.
- Tools for security: VPN setup, Cisco ScanSafe, Zscaler, LastPass, 1Password.
- Cloud Storage: Google Drive, Sync, Onedrive, Dropbox, iCloud drive.
PROS OF WORK FROM HOME
Why business and employees are demanding telecommuting function?
Benefits of telecommuting to Organizations(Employers)
Work from home comes with the clear financial benefits which eliminate cost associated with real estate and utility like office rent, furniture, equipment, office supplies, coffee and janitorial services. It can also save relocation cost which company need to incur on getting an employee to their office location.
Reducing Employee Turnover
Telecommuting employees are more satisfied and happier as they can maintain a better work-life balance. So, telework is a perk that employees won’t give up without a lot of consideration. Also, it allows employers to retain their best employees who had left the company due to various personal reasons for relocation which results in a reduction in the cost of recruiting and training new employees.
Wider Talent Pool
It’s almost impossible to find all highly skilled talented people in just one town or city but, telecommuting made it possible as 9-to-5 availability and geographical locations are not necessarily deal-breakers anymore. It opened up a wide range of possibilities to find the right talent rather than limiting talent pipeline to employees in the organization’s local area or city.
Elimination of travel, to and from work results in the reduction of air pollution and fuel consumption. It reduces carbon footprints as well as greenhouse gases. Also, if 40% of total U.S. half time telecommuters starts working from home then the energy potential from the fuel savings would be more than twice that of U.S. currently produces from all renewable energy sources combined.
Benefits of telecommuting for Organizations(Employees)
Employee’s satisfaction in personal life and the ability to meet personal commitments towards family, friends and society affects greatly in their success as a worker, which in turn benefits employee as well as the employer.
Increase in productivity
Some employees might enjoy quit office with natural light, taking breaks and going outside or taking a nap, attaining some exercise for rejuvenating and reducing stress. Producing some endorphins and getting one’s heart rate up can do wonders for increasing productivity.
Work form home means no more commuting. So, money spent on travelling to and from work can be reduced including public transport tickets, car fuel, tolls and parking charges. Also, there are possible tax benefits for the telecommuters using part of their home for business purpose.
CONS OF WORK FROM HOME
Working too much
When a person works from home he/she tends to work too much because there is no differentiation between the workplace and home, this happens because one’s home has become one’s workplace. However, a constant thought keeps on ticking in the person’s mind about missing on to some task or some pending tasks to be performed which results in doing too much work.
The significant security risk is associated with telecommuters. It places the organization at higher exposure to external threats because when remote employees or third party vendors access the company’s data, drives and equipment outside the company vicinity, the company’s IT security structure weakens. Personal devices, public Wi-Fi networks expose important data to several vulnerabilities.
Working remotely can cause communication problems. Getting everyone on the same page on the same call and in the same mindset is challenging when people aren’t located in the same place. Whenever there’s a gap in communication across a distributed workforce people tend to fill that void with their own assumptions which result in work conflicts.
Managing a remote team is a challenging task, it is way different from managing a logistics chain, supply chain or distribution network. The company needs to look out for managers capable of handling remote teams. Problems like cultural difference, time zones difference all need to be taken into consideration to create a team that has multinational members and can work together effectively.
Are work from home jobs real?
With the changing approaches to conduct business and the right implementation, telecommuting can become a fantastic way to increase the productivity of employees. By setting guidelines and defined process, a company can reap the benefits of working from home and guarantee success for themselves. Many well-known companies like Dell, Deloitte and UnitedHealth group has successfully integrated remote work culture within their organizations for years.
Also, Melewy –100% remote company, is the ideal example for all businesses adapting to telecommuting. But with this we can’t ignore the fact there have been instances where remote work failed miserably. IBM which has embraced remote work culture for decades and then in 2009 when some discrepancies were encountered they called all employees back to their office.
We can’t deny that there is a dark side too. So, rather than having – either an everybody works in the office policy or an everybody works from home one, companies should look for a hybrid of the two. I think we need to find that sweet spot in between where it helps the environment, it helps people, but it doesn’t alienate us and it doesn’t cause our organizations to fall apart by centrifugal force.
Author – Snehal Namade