Telecommuting and Employees

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We all know that the daily commute can be very long and frustrating. Traffic can often cause long delays. These delays cause stress to you, your boss and the coworkers that have to cover for you until you make it into the office. Today there is a new highway that everyone can use to get to work. The delays on this highway are measured in microseconds rather than hours. It is the Information Superhighway. The Information Superhighway has the ability to connect together every computer in every part of the world. This kind of access allows individuals to do research, marketing, communications, sales and a wide range of other tasks normally completed at the office, from the comfort and convenience of their own home. This was the basic principle that started a new trend in business known as telecommuting. This paper will give you the information you need to have a good understanding of what telecommuting is and why it is becoming so popular. In addition, it will discuss how businesses design telecommuting jobs, how they work and how they are managed. Telecommuting involves letting employees of a company complete part of if not all of their daily work in the convenience of their own home. In some cases this may involve connecting to the companies computer network through the Internet via modem. In other cases it may just mean they complete work at home and then send the completed work back to the office through the mail or by delivering it themselves. Although many people bring work from the office home with them at night to complete before the next day they are not necessarily considered telecommuters. A schoolteacher, for instance, brings students papers home to grade. She then takes them back to school the next day. This does not make her a telecommuter for the simple reason that her compensation is based on the time she spends at school not at home. "Telecommuting occurs whenever an employee is paid for work done at an alternate worksite and total commuting time is thereby reduced" (Mariani, 2000). While being able to enjoy the comfort of your own home and still collect a paycheck may seem like a good reason, that is not what started the idea of telecommuting. State and federal government first began the research and promotions of telecommuting to help minimize traffic congestion, cut operating cost, and help protect the environment (Hawkins, 2001). The Clean Air Act requires employers in America's most polluted cities to cut commuting of its employees by 25% (Edwards & Field-Hendley, 1996). While many employers are attempting to accomplish this through the use of shuttle services and carpools, others are experimenting with or are already using telecommuting as the solution. As it becomes more popular, companies are also finding other reasons to design jobs around telecommuting. For instance, research has shown that telecommuting reduces absenteeism and turnover while increasing employee production and satisfaction. As the following case illustrates, telecommuting enables businesses to spread all over the country without the additional cost of office space at each location. Development Counselors International, a 41-year-old economic analysis firm in Manhattan, watched its western business triple as the result of allowing two employees to telecommute rather than resign when they wanted to relocate elsewhere. One employee ended up working out of his home office in Denver, Colorado and another in Tuscan, Arizona (Coplan, 2001). All these reasons make it beneficial for a company to work telecommuting into the job design, but remember, the employees like it also. This leads to one of the prime reasons for the recent popularity of telecommuting in businesses today, attracting high quality employees. An online benefits company, LifeCare, recently released a survey that showed that employees rate flexible work arrangements as the No. 1 coveted benefit. In the survey flexible work arrangements even beat...
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