Telecommuting: A Benefit Employees Wish Employers would Offer Patty Dykstra
February 17, 2014
Telecommuting originally began in 1972 and has continued in various forms for over forty years. Over time, it has become more acknowledged as a legitimate practice for cutting costs and increasing employee satisfaction. However, opponents bring up the points that there are work flow issues, lack of employee accountability and legal issues. This paper will review both the advantages and disadvantages showing why telecommuting should be considered by more employers. US News and World Report published an article by Alison Green entitled 8 Benefits Employees Wish Employers Would Offer dated September 13, 2013. Making the list at number three was “being allowed to telecommute when the work allows it,” (Green, 2013). Companies that allow telecommuting go a long way toward earning employees’ loyalty. Making the list at number five was flexible schedules (Green, 2013). In reviewing the remaining items on the list, it is clear that employees want to work but they also want respect and some autonomy at the same time. Technology is also constantly developing and making it easier for employees to stay connected while working out of the office. “Working out of the office” may mean meetings with clients, inspections of equipment, property, or staff assessments. However, in most cases it refers to an employee who is telecommuting or working remotely from a site other than their assigned office – most often from their home. In an age where companies are looking for every possible place to cut expenses and still remain competitive; this is definitely an area that should be reviewed. It makes no sense to build a cubicle or an office for an employee who spends most of their time legitimately working outside the office. Telecommuting enables the employer to save at least $2,000 to $8,000 per employee by reduced costs of an office and other fixed overhead costs (Goodman, 2013). However, nothing in this world is ever completely good or bad and this topic is no exception. Legal vulnerabilities for the employer with the employee working in uncontrolled environments, problems with accountability of employees for the employer, and the potential for negative impact on the value of the company as a whole are just a few examples of the potential pitfalls. Other benefits and pitfalls to the employer and employee will be explored farther as we proceed. The term “telecommuting” was first used in a business context in 1972 by Jack Nilles, who was later dubbed the “Father of Teleworking,” while he worked from home developing a communication system for NASA (Meier, 2013). Telecommuting is basically a work concept that liberates employees from time and space and in which work is an activity, not a place (Kurland & Egan, 1999). During the ensuing 41 years, telecommuting evolved into many forms that were often accepted by business professionals, employees, and researchers across the board. According to Meier (2013), a brief review of the evolutionary timeline for telecommuting might look something like this:
Research has shown that on any given day 55% of employees are out of the office. Competition and the bottom line demand that office space be created only for staff that requires it on a daily basis (Goodman, 2013). The staff that only comes to the office periodically can utilize hotel cubicles or shared workspaces. Telecommuting was once touted in the workplace as a potential benefit to employees to reduce the work-family balance conflict. Some studies have shown that telecommuting professional and managerial candidates who generally have more autonomy and control over their work schedules are more successful in the transition from being a traditional office worker to a telecommuter. Studies of telecommuting employees versus traditional office workers have shown challenges to the traditional office...
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