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Telecommuting Pros And Cons - Part Two

Updated on August 16, 2013

Many people feel that their job is a privilege and those with this mindset feel that telecommuting is even more of a privilege. With the recent knocks against telecommuting from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Best Buy as well, it pays for employers and employees to take a look at how telecommuting is managed from the employer's end of the arrangement. It appears to many that have some level of experience with telecommuting that these companies may not have been properly managing their employees who telecommute.

If expectations and goals weren't being met, this indicates something was wrong on the employees end such as a lack of performance or communication. But when management allows telecommuting particularly for a significant length of time and then completely reverses course, it signals that management may not have selected the best candidates for telecommuting and was not making sure various work related milestones and standards were consistently being met. As the saying goes, "it takes two to tango" and things such as substandard work or a lack of communication must be nipped in the bud, not allowed to fester.

There is no need to micromanage telecommuters, if that's the case those individuals should never telecommute. However, there should be open lines of communication on both ends and consistently good performance from employees. For telecommuting to work well for both employer and employee, there must be proof that all requirements and duties are being met or exceeded. Particularly with advancing technologies, there is simply no excuse for a lack of communication.

"Forgotten employees" should never be a reality, no matter where or how their work is done. Video conferencing, telephone, email, text, IM, and much more are available to even the most financially strapped employees and employers, even more so here in the United States. If all else fails, employees can usually make a trip to the office or work site to ensure that everything they are producing is desirable, necessary, and correct as well as to collaborate when needed. Communication should be of equally top priority alongside performance.

It is sad but true, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. If one telecommuter's performance declines, they can actually end the privilege for their peers at that company as well whether they telecommute 100% of the time, just a fraction, or somewhere between. When telecommuting is badly managed by a company or any division thereof, there is a tendency for all telecommuting there to be shut down, negatively affecting the highly valued, skilled, top performing, and motivated telecommuting professionals that truly prefer this type of work arrangement.

The knee-jerk reaction takes some getting used to for those telecommuters affected and some talent may actually leave the company particularly if their lives were arranged around the ability to telecommute (which is often the case). There should never be issue with ending the privilege on a case-by-case basis. Weeding out lackluster performers if any, is fine. A one size fits all approach is very likely not fine with those who benefit and highly value it. Another cause for concern when ending all telecommuting within the company, is that some of the good apples may end up in the company's competition's hands and working quite happily against, rather than for the company. This may even be the case when non-compete clauses have been issued and signed.

Employment at many organizations is at-will and can cease with or without cause. Management of any company can often do as they please and this includes where telecommuting is concerned. However, for employees that are proven contributors/performers, communicative, reliable, and disciplined whose jobs can be done via telecommuting, there may be little reason to confine them to company facilities to work if they already have a good track record and if telecommuting is what they would like to do. Any employees that must be nagged or micromanaged when telecommuting are the types of employees that should report daily to company property for work...if they should have a job within your company at all.

  • Telecommuting may benefit your company by providing flexibility to employees and allowing them a better work and life balance. This is something that is very important to most employees because they spend more waking hours at work than they spend at home. Many employees have children, perform caregiver duties for sick/aging relatives, are attempting to work and go to college, have health issues that make it difficult to report daily, etc. Telecommuting can provide these employees flexibility to meet their needs while being productive employees for you.
  • Telecommuting is attractive to many experienced, talented, and busy professionals. When they are given a position that gives them a better work and life balance, they are often happier employees and more willing to go the extra mile to make their employers happy. This is proven time and again by telecommuters that actually get more work done than their on-site counterparts. Some telecommuters say they have saved so much time on long commutes or from office gossip and distractions that they enjoy working a bit longer from the comfort of their home or elsewhere as necessary.
  • Another benefit to employers is that telecommuting can reduce your monthly overhead for office space, computer equipment, etc. These savings can be put into the company to grow revenues and profits.

Performance should be the priority and many agree that simply having all employees in one place doesn't in and of itself mean that everyone will be more productive. In fact, within many companies it can actually be proven that some on-site employees accomplish less than their telecommuting colleagues at the same company. This is due to a variety of things such as meetings, emails, paperwork, phone calls, etc.

Jobs that rely on technology such as those requiring a computer, phone, printer, or fax are often among the positions that are the best suited for telecommuting. These positions can include writing/editing, insurance sales, graphic design, call center positions, book keeping, data entry, translation, programming, financial advising, and much more. Not all jobs can or should be done off company property. However, if the position is suitable and your employees or applicants express interest, it is be beneficial to investigate the details of offering this option to well qualified, highly disciplined, and experienced people. If you are looking to provide a cost effective (and possibly cost reducing) perk, telecommuting may be a good choice for you. Providing this option where applicable could keep your employees happy, save you money on overhead, and actually increase productivity.

© 2013 Express10


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