August 26, 2014

Telecommuting can be very valuable when it comes to recruiting top IT talent. With advanced connectivity tools like wireless devices and online meeting services providing greater flexibility, an increased number of IT professionals are finding themselves taking advantage of this benefit.

Though many companies believe telecommuting practices can improve retention and morale amongst their staff, it’s important to recognize some of the unique management and technical problems that come along with working off-site. Tech powerhouses Yahoo and Apple have decided to do away with their flexible work arrangements, but should you?  To help decide if telecommuting is the right fit for your organization, here are the benefits and potential drawbacks to consider when making your decision.

Benefits of Telecommuting

1.  Talent Acquisition Implementing remote working options is a highly regarded perk for IT professionals and companies alike. Organizations that rely on highly specialized skill sets are more likely to appreciate the talent pool that telecommuting creates and will offer it as an incentive. Off- site working facilitates round-the-clock schedules, which is vital to companies that need rapid responses to issues and for employees who perform better during non-traditional hours.

2. Increases Productivity and Work/Life Balance Reports on telecommuting provide evidence that, although there is less supervision, employees are more productive and efficient when they are allowed to work from home. Telecommuters tend to have greater control and responsibility over their work, which contributes to better results and greater satisfaction.

3. Increases Need for IT Professionals Depending on the organization’s needs, implementing a telecommuting option will require more infrastructure and IT network services. According to Forrester, with 63 million telecommuters expected by 2016, businesses will need IT professionals to coordinate broadband, secure VPNs, and set up work laptops.

4. Reduces Costs The most obvious benefit for your organization will be cost savings. As companies expand and become more global, off- site working options can reduce operating costs associated with office space and equipment, as well as commuter expenses for employees including gas, public transportation, and parking. Consequently, future growth and expansion won’t be hampered by limited space availability.

With all of the great benefits that come along with telecommuting, what could possibly go wrong?

Challenges of Telecommuting

Time Management Telecommuting can easily blur the line between work and home responsibilities. There is always temptation to divide time; however, this likely results in insufficient attention being paid to both. Working off-site requires a great deal of control so learning to set limits will help to prevent potential problems.

Keeping Up Standards With a scattered workforce, it becomes increasingly harder for managers to keep everyone up to the same standard. This is especially true for software designers and engineers because of constantly changing technologies. A solution for this would be to hold regular training sessions to keep professionals abreast of all of latest developments.

Maintaining Company Culture When employees share a space, culture is easy to share. One of the critical skills of a manager is to run and motivate a good team, which is usually done through face-to-face support, encouragement, and mentoring. Employees and leaders can take note of the attitude of the rest of the team, but doing this from a distance is much harder.

Communication Roadblocks Teleworkers have less face-time with managers and peers, which can cause feedback issues. It becomes harder to track project progress, especially when immediate response is required. Establishing communication protocols is vital to ensure others can reach you, no matter when and where you work. Creating a progress schedule will also help to gauge productivity.  

Maintaining a Secure Network Keeping customer and financial information confidential is a top priority, but telecommuting can run the risk of comprising network security. Strict security measures are needed to ensure safety and VPNs are usually the most noted way to do so.

Transitioning to a telecommuting-friendly environment allows for greater mobility for your employees; but, it is equally important to be mindful of the challenges that could follow. When exploring the idea of telecommuting, make sure to have the proper tools in place as the ability to stay connected will be the key to a successful telecommuting organization.

What other benefits or potential issues has your organization faced with telecommuting? Do you prefer working in the office or off-site?

Posted By: Ariana Hampton- Marcell

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