The continued shift to telecommuting: What it means for your business
Telecommuting has become increasingly popular in the digital age, providing the kind of flexibility that is now integral to the success of many businesses.Times are changing, in a 2015 market researchers Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey of IT decision makers in Europe and the US, and found that the majority of employees no longer work in a traditional office environmentt.
Up to 25 percent of staff now report working from home at least some of the time, while other staff members are constantly on the go during business hours, working from laptops, tablets and smartphones in hotels, at airports and on clients’ sites.
So, what does the continued shift to telecommuting mean for your business?
Telecommuting can play a significant role in helping your business to embrace mobility. The Frost & Sullivan survey found that around 13 percent of employees in the US and Europe are considered ‘mobile’ as they spend most of their time travelling. Telecommuting can help your business to facilitate mobile workers, by enabling them to work done while they are on the move, increasing their own productivity, and subsequently that of your company.
When you implement telecommuting, your staff will gain access to a wide range of business and communications applications that allow them to remain resolutely on task no matter where they are. Telecommuting enables mobile workers to contact colleagues and clients via voice over internet protocol (VoIP), video conferencing and instant messaging, meaning they can respond in real time to urgent requests, invitations to meetings, social media notifications.
By implementing telecommuting and embracing mobility, you can enhance communication with your mobile workers, ensuring they’re able to remain in contacts with co-workers and customers 24/7 wherever they find themselves.
Telecommuting can be a terrific asset, but if you’re considering implementing it as part of your business strategy, you need to manage the disadvantages it can have, as well as benefit from the advantages.
First of all, there’s the risk of workers becoming alienated when left to operate independently in isolation. Individuals that thrive under pressure may find they become distracted and lax in the comfort of their own home, resulting in diminished productivity.
Telecommuters can also be unaware of changes and updates that occur, leaving them to waste time and resources pursuing projects that have been put on hold or aiming to hit goals no longer considered a priority.
In order to prevent telecommuting workers from falling foul of these pitfalls, it’s important to be proactive in keeping them in the loop, to ensure they are as aware of day-to-day changes as on-site staff, and to schedule regular face-to-face contact. The latter will ensure telecommuters do not feel like they have been forgotten about, or are considered insignificant, keeping them enthusiastic, involved and industrious.
Telecommuting and cloud communications
By its very nature, implementing telecommuting provides an excellent opportunity to modernize your business’s telephone system using cloud communications. Cloud communications can provide your business with a number of benefits, the main ones of which are:
- Increased agility
- Improved productivity and service
- Remote access
- Cutting costs
Cloud communications enable your business to react rapidly to changing market conditions, such as allowing your staff to work from anywhere as needs dictate.
Whether you’re using cloud communications for basic mobile integration or to access powerful applications, embracing mobile means your business can move beyond the limitations of its physical location, enabling staff to be productive no matter where they are and ensuring customers receive improved service, no matter what the time of day.
With cloud communications, staff can access the company intranet, applications, their email and business data without needing to be at their desk. This gives them the capability to work at maximum capacity regardless of where they might be and what the time might be, meaning productivity is no longer restricted by location or office hours.
Given that telecommuting potentially removes the need for employees to travel to business premises or other sites on a daily basis, it can help lower your company’s carbon footprint considerably.
Staff that are willing and able to work from home or a nearby business center will not need to drive or use public transport every single day, reducing the frequency with which they use vehicles that produce pollution. As such, your company can be directly responsible for a reduction in carbon emissions.
Such a move will enable you to significantly enhance the reputation of your business, both in its sector and in the local community, through corporate social responsibility, which in turn can boost its appeal both to prospective customers and potential employees.
Successfully implementing telecommuting
Another potential boon to your business of implementing telecommuting, and one that is oft-overlooked, is that it can cut the costs associated with creating and maintaining a comfortable working environment for employees. However, in order to benefit from this and the other advantages telecommuting offers, it must be successfully implemented.
You must ensure all telecommuting employees have suitable smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers, and access to the relevant applications and data, required to perform their duties remotely. Whether you supply the hardware yourself, or operate a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, you must ensure telecommuters have the technology and services required to conduct business seamlessly from wherever they are based.
While telecommuting can be an extremely effective tool for your business, you must be prepared to provide telecommuting staff with the resources necessary to perform to the best of their ability in order to get the most out the process.
While the continued shift to telecommuting can present challenges, it also provides you with the opportunity to modernize and mobilize your business communications by embracing the cloud, and increase the flexibility, productivity and job satisfaction of your workforce while simultaneously enhancing the standing of your company through corporate social responsibility.
The steady swing towards telecommuting cannot be ignored, so prepare your business accordingly.