Working from home, also known as telecommuting, is a flexible work arrangement whereby an employee, contractor and even a consultant can work distantly from their places of work. In most cases, telecommuting is a suitable option for inclement weather days. It also serves better for adults, who need to be present at home for certain events such as furnace cleaning days, delivery days and mid-day doctor’s appointments. However, telecommuting can be challenging depending on an employee. Notably, some workers can successfully separate their work and personal lives. On the other hand, others will require the separation offered by the job location. Self-starters and independent employees will always succeed in telecommuting. Using the latter, human resource managers can recruit and even maintain a talent pool. Telecommuting has become an attractive arrangement in many organizations.
Telecommuting increases employees’ satisfaction and even saves company’s money, especially on utilities. However, this is not a perfect solution. Studies show that 33% of employers allow their workers to telecommute on a regular basis, while 63% support such practice occasionally (Dahlstrom, 2013). It is significant to note that in some cases, the situation whether one telecommutes or not does not impact the outcome of work, but the amount of telecommuters is more important. The idea of telecommuting is becoming more popular. However, numerous businesses are unwilling to offer this practice to their workers. Some of the touchable advantages of telecommuting include financial savings and increased productivity. One of the noticeable obstacles towards telecommuting is technical problems. Another disadvantage is the lack of personal interaction amongst coworkers. Moreover, the implementation of effective telecommuting programs requires the company to deal with numerous issues. They include employee training and top management support just to mention a few (Dahlstrom, 2013).
There are numerous benefits of telecommuting. First, it increases organization productivity. Notably, telecommuting arrangements cut down time for employees. Arguably, it takes a short period to go to the kitchen to prepare a meal and return to the home office, being rather productive since it saves time. With telecommuting, employers can access the staff outside their traditional working hours. Besides, the practice of working from home has many benefits for workers due to the flexibility of schedule (Behrens, 2009). An individual can choose when to work and when to perform house chores. Moreover, telecommuters are also in better positions to plan their time. Secondly, telecommuting enhances financial savings. Companies that allow their staff to work from home save a lot of money on office space, light, heat, office supplies, and overhead costs just to mention a few.
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One of the disadvantages associated with telecommuting is that there is a potential decrease in satisfaction amongst co-workers. No matter how accessible technology has become, face-to-face interaction at the workplace remains crucial. Evidently, in most offices with a traditional type of setting, employees engage and interact with their co-workers only in lunchrooms. With telecommuting, such vital communication is limited. Dissatisfaction occurs since office-based workers perceive the fact that telecommuters have much freedom (Behrens, 2009). The second disadvantage associated with telecommuting is that it results in the loss of team building in an organization. The reason for this is that working from home reduces time necessary for building interrelated teams. Thus, managers who have a blended workforce need to look for better ways to nurture team culture. Thirdly, telecommuting lacks the provision of explicit guidelines to employees. Therefore, those companies pursuing the idea of employing telecommuters need to put coherent instructions to the staff. Understandable and well-communicated policies are significant in telecommuting. Employees need to be taught that they should be present and contribute to business meetings. Additionally, they also need to be aware that they must be reachable during working hours. However, when such policies are not communicated, they can result in confusion.
The human resource manager can use telecommuting as a recruitment and retention tool. This method is effective for attracting new employees and retaining those who have been working for the organization. For most companies, finding highly qualified staff poses a significant challenge. Thus, when employees are given chances to work from their homes, it can be easier to attract those looking for the correct balance between home and work life (Kaifi, 2014). For successful telecommuting, there has to be a cooperative arrangement between employees and employers. Human resource managers recruit individuals who are suitable for such work and other assignments that need to be completed from home. Since it is hard to monitor such an employee, the manager is responsible for designing and overseeing telecommuting programs. Therefore, trust in relations is critical in this kind of setting. Managers are to be aware that they should recruit employees who are self-directed, productive, organized, and knowledgeable of what their work entails. Successful supervisors should be able to trust their staff, have a positive attitude towards telecommuting, be flexible, and have the ability to communicate well (Kaifi, 2014).
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When both public and private organizations make use of telecommuting, the company’s overall image will be changed regarding global competition, expanded workforce, staffing flexibility, recruitment tools, and business continuity, facility costs and environmental standards. Evidently, such practice has several impacts on the organization’s overall image. First of all, it increases its sustainability. Employees’ overhead expenses will be reduced through telecommuting. As organizations grow, it has the need for additional staff. With many employees, the company will have to provide them with much office space to work. Costs saved because of not expanding workspaces can be used in supporting other corporate initiatives. Additionally, this will also strengthen the business and ensure potential competitive advantage. According to the recent survey, only 57% of organizations allow their employees to telecommute (Dahlstrom, 2013).
As demographic and economic changes force telecommuting to become a reality, especially for the staff and organizations, there is a huge demand for training. Therefore, a curriculum for a successful telecommuting program must include such subjects as keyboarding, work environment, time management, decision-making, performance-based evaluation and ethics (Dahlstrom, 2013). For those who telecommute from their homes, the required training may concern the process of setting up a home office and methods of controlling interruptions if they occur. On the other hand, the training for supervisors includes establishing performance standards for those who work from home, selecting an employee for the right tasks, and troubleshooting problems.
Telecommuting is increasingly becoming a modern work style. Many private and public organizations adopt this method to solve the entire dilemma that comes with recruiting and retaining quality employees. Some of the benefits associated with telecommuting are that it increases productivity in an organization. Besides, it can be used to attract and retain employees. Telecommuting also saves costs, such as the ones of office furniture and space just to mention a few. Saved money can be spent on other initiatives. Some of the disadvantages include dissatisfaction among employees, lost team building, and the lack of clear guidelines for employees. Trainings for home telecommuters and supervisors include setting up a home office, controlling interruptions, troubleshooting problems and selecting qualified employees suitable for the right tasks.