Are you green for telework? Take this 3-minute survey to evaluate your eligibility for telework. I have qualified as one and supposedly could save $1875 and about a ton of pollutants dispersed by car a year if teleworked full-time, and I only make a small 10-mile round trip to work each day. According to a Telework Exchange study, the U.S. alone could save $13.9 billion on commuting costs and 21.5 billion pounds of environmental pollutants annually if all Federal employees who are eligible to telework full time were to do so. Now, think about the global effect telecommuting could bring about.
What’s discouraging is that the all-time-high gas prices notwithstanding, the number of U.S. telecommuters who considered their home their primary place of business (not including the self-employed) was only 2.5 million in 2008. Even more surprising is the fact that the total number of people who worked from home or remotely for an entire day at least once a month dropped from 33.7 million in 2008 to 26.2 million or by about 20% of the U.S. working adult population in 2010. However, the decline is likely due to a combination of factors: fewer Americans in the workforce overall due to high unemployment, higher anxiety concerning job security, and lack of awareness of telework options (WorldatWork).
Anyhow, high gas prices and the greener environment aren’t the only two incentives to telecommute. Additionally, telework has a positive effect on a better work/life balance, continuity of operations, employee satisfaction and retention, quality of work, productivity, and is a quality differentiator when choosing a job. If looking a bit broader on work flexibility – flexibility of time, place and work processes, that too, has a significant impact on business. It increases customer retention, productivity, profit gain and organisational commitment, increased shareholder value, it makes staying with the firm more attractive to high level executives as well as to other employees, it reduces stress, and promotes partnering with employees to manage the workload. Businesses with a culture of flexibility usually have employees that are more engaged in and committed to achieving organisational goals. It’s a common fact that satisfied employees influence customer satisfaction which positively impacts on the bottom line (Boston College).
Image courtesy of Telework Exchange
The good news is that a lot of jobs are indeed eligible for telework, well, at least the white-collar ones. Ideal characteristics describing a teleworker are the ability to communicate via e-mail and phone, to remotely access an organisation’s IT infrastructure, a safe alternative working environment, and the ability to control one’s schedule to a significant degree (Telework Research Network).
Besides, technology today enables us to carry our laptop PCs and tablets around and use them at the office or at home (and practically anywhere else). Broadband Internet connections, Wi-Fi and the rise of cloud computing technology have enabled access to office tools and remote servers via a combination of portable hardware and software. Although we have a plethora of technological solutions at hand, the key to making remote work possible for a business is to keep it simple.
Take me for example. This very instant, I’m working at home on my own computer using our corporate EIM solution (ISL Pronto) for quick text communication with my colleagues at work, while I’m also connected to my office PC via remote access in case I need software applications and files shared on our corporate Intranet. We keep it clean and simple so everyone in our company can work remotely if he/she wants to. If it wasn’t for the great social atmosphere, for those first morning coffee breaks, relaxing lunch outings, yummy birthday cakes and occassional near-to-tears laughs, I seriously doubt anyone would be actually sitting in the office day after day after day. Therefore, remember that giving your workers a chance to telework is the first step, but attracting them back to the office usually takes a bit more than just a comfortable chair and a fast computer. It takes an all-in-all flexible and relaxed corporate culture and a leadership that work together with workers towards a common goal.