The significance of telecommuting in guaranteeing employee satisfaction cannot be underestimated. The term telecommuting refers to an alternative work arrangement whereby an employee works outside the set standard office. In telecommuting, the employee works outside the standard office, either from a location that is closer to home (Library) or simply from a home office. Telecommuting takes different forms, including a full-time arrangement whereby employees remotely work all the time, or in certain circumstances where issues arising makes it practical to practice telecommuting.
Since its discovery, telecommuting has experienced growth and expansion in the business environment with companies offering telecommuting options to employees increasing by over 30% from less than 8% in the American business sector in a period of 6 years. This growth is expected to continue aided by the new discoveries in modern communications and information technologies that continue to shape new occupations.
The world is fast changing notable in the vast range of improvements in both transport and communication networks. With this, the level of competition between companies and businesses has been on the rise forcing both businessmen and entrepreneurs to be innovative with new ideas and mechanisms to get ahead of their competitors. One way in which this has been achieved is through telecommuting that promotes maximizing production with less cost on transportation of employees to and from work. As a result, the effectiveness of not only the employees but also of the firm is improved.
The growing trend in use of telecommuting by employees has been encouraged by a number of factors including the fear of a shrinking labor pool of employees with specific talents that are considered crucial in the work structure. Efforts to make such employs happy and therefore stay have resulted in a willingness by employers to make concessions. In addition, the need to reduce the labor pool and a demand for highly skilled employees has led to increasing reforms in the working environments by employees where workers vast in skills are seen to demand more flexible work arrangements in the work system. Among the demands include the ability to be allowed to choose to live farther apart from their employers.
Byrd (2013) further states that demographic change is increasingly playing a part in the development of telecommuting. A change in generation of workers that is unwilling to forfeit time with family compared to the previous generation of workers. To retain highly skilled employees with a desire to spend more time with family members the employers have been forced to accept proposals of telecommuting as a mechanism to provide a win-win solution to the situation.
General improvement in technology has been a hallmark in promoting the development of telecommuting as a strategy in office running and management from home. Technological improvement in the coming of powerful personal computers, fax machines, and high-speed modems has promoted employees’ input by facilitating access to working materials and documents from anywhere without the loss of touch with both the employer and customers.
Telecommuting is becoming popular in the current corporate world. According to Gibson, Blackwell, Dominicis, & Demerath (2004), “many employers believe that telecommuting increases morale and productivity” (para. 13). The employee working from home is saved from the distractions of an office setting from colleagues and the hectic office environment. As a result, the effectiveness of the employee is improved, and he or she is enabled to maximize on time to improve on production. This kind of work includes the arrangement between the employees and their employer so that the employees can work from home or remotely at a setting near home. This happens with the employees maintaining communication with the company through computer connections and emails and instant messaging. The arrangement may be full time or just for particular days (Allen, Golden, & Shockley, 2015).
Telecommuting has over the years shown great advantages both to the employees and the employers. Most telecommuters save on commuting time and costs and hence register greater satisfaction with the work. Some have feared that this model of working would decelerate or even hamper the growth of a company but the otherwise seems to be true. Many telecommuters are happier than the traditional office employees, and this translates to a more focused commitment to their work realizing greater productivity and growth.
On matters of costs, both the employer and the employees benefit in this sense. Studies have shown that companies that allow telecommuting save up to eleven thousand dollars every year. The companies significantly reduce on the expenses of office and parking spaces for employees and their cars since they work from home and not from office premises. In addition, companies that have incorporated telecommuting programs incur a one-time cost on purchasing communication equipment that is used in facilitating the program hence helps in reducing the overall costs and expenses by the company. Pride (2017)
Despite having to incur costs on implementing telecommuting programs, companies that have incorporated the program The employees on the other hand also directly save on their commuting costs, purchase of office attire and even expenses on food and lunches while at work. Generally, it’s agreed that telecommunication allows the employees more time with their families and especially those with children can then easily take care of their children while at the same time be effective in their work. Parents in this sense can also have freedom in the choice of their residence without any restrictions of living close to the company.
A sense of independence and freedom seems to be a need for almost every employee. Telecommuting gives this opportunity to the employees. This helps the employees to own up the work and even without realization work for more hours daily. Butler, Aasheim, & Williams (2007) found, “telecommuters may be more productive because they receive additional training and/or are selected to become telecommuters because they are already the most productive employees” (p. 102).
Telecommuting has its effects on the environment also. There is a reduction of pollution in the roads as working at home reduces the use of automobiles on the roads. This ensures that the unit gaseous waste from the automobiles is reduced per day. A reduction in pollution to the environment helps in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals that aims at promoting the creation of an environment that is safe and sustains human survival. Given the pledge by most private sectors to support this initiative, use of telecommuters by companies is seen as a means to make this a reality (Asgari, & Jin, 2015).
This, in turn, translates to reduced urban migration as workers can just operate from their homes which might not be in the urban setting. In the long run, also, the pressure on the city infrastructure is reduced. This is even more beneficial in developing countries with poor infrastructure. Population in most African cities is seen to rise with each day posing a danger to the inhabitants who usually are forced to share limited resources between overly many people. Migration to cities has resulted in the emergence of slums that are poorly structured and pose a great danger to occupants from security to health crises. Telecommuters as a system in running companies help in providing solutions to such problems.
In contrast to this array of advantages of telecommuting, the impact on those around the worker is mostly ignored at times. Immediately work is brought into the home, the boundary between the two becomes blurred. Delineating working space and home becomes difficult.
The teleworker commonly finds him or herself spending more time in work than focusing on the home. Work slowly precedes family in the home blocking the other members of the family. The other workers who cherish face to face communication find it difficult telecommuting. Staying throughout in the home without physical interaction with colleagues commonly makes them feel like prisoners in their own houses (Asgari, & Jin, 2015).
When implemented in an office setting telecommuting has a relatively large effect on the entire organization and running of an office. The social interaction between coworkers is greatly impacted on when a portion of the employees works from home. Consequently, the entire office is forced to apply adjustment measures especially among the employees still operating from office settings.
Telecommuting may also prove challenging to managers and supervisors who are used to having the employees within sight and reach so that they can perform regular oversight roles to ascertain the continuity of work activities. The inability to physically observe telecommuters working from home increases the level of suspicion among such managers and supervisors further aggravating the situation. Some managers may further feel their positions unworthy when they are put in charge of largely telecommuters who barely appear in the offices further raising the need for supervisors.
Telecommuting can result in reduced output when the company spends on recruiting employees who may otherwise lack self-discipline, a prerequisite for teleworkers at home. The employee finds him or herself engaging in activities that do not add value to the progress of the company. The growth of the company is therefore curtailed, and the company is likely to run at a loss in the long run.
Where the employees require constant supervision, telecommuting may not be desirable as a strategy to run office activities. Hiring such workers may not result in the desired output since the employees will not be easily accessible to the management team when they work from home. The company is forced to spend more during hiring to ascertain the credibility of the employees before being recruited into the company workforce.
The telecommuting employee, therefore, needs to be very tactical in order to separate work and home space. This when approached wisely by having balanced attention to the family then this model of work can free up the cities and ensure a reduction in the city stresses.
To improve on the output by a newly telecommuting workforce, the company needs to organize and conduct training for the entire team ranging from the supervisors, and the telecommuters on the relevant work ethics. Clear work outlines should be set and discussed by all the parties involved and the expectations communicated to prepare all the employees for the new work relations.
In addition, the company should create and use a written policy that covers telecommuting which details the persons eligible for the program, clearly outline the expectations of the company from the telecommuters, and finally the equipment and materials that the company would be willing and able to provide for use by telecommuters to use in an attempt to achieve company goals and objectives. The company should also create a system that it can use to measure the effectiveness of the telecommuter program chosen in achieving company goals and provide means and ways to revise and change the program if the need arises Belasen (2000).
- Allen, T. D., Golden, T. D., & Shockley, K. M. (2015). How effective is telecommuting? Assessing the status of our scientific findings. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(2), 40-68.
- Asgari, H., & Jin, X. (2015). Toward a Comprehensive Telecommuting Analysis Framework: Setting the Conceptual Outline. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, (2496), 1-9.
- Belasen, A. T. (2000). Leading the learning organization: Communication and competencies for managing change. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 6-8
- Butler, E. S., Aasheim, C., & Williams, S. (2007). Does Telecommuting Improve Productivity?. Communications Of The ACM, 50(4), 101-103. doi:10.1145/1232743.1232773
- Byrd, M. J., & Megginson, L. C. (2013). Small business management: An entrepreneur’s guidebook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 67-73
- Gibson, J. W., Blackwell, C. W., Dominicis, P., & Demerath, N. (2002). Telecommuting in the 21st century: benefits, issues, and a leadership model which will work. Journal Of Leadership Studies, (4), 75.
- Pride, W. M. (2017). Foundations of business. New York: Cengage Learning, 54.