BCStrategies Views | May 7, 2015
Businesses are finding that providing workers the opportunity to work remotely has some important benefits, not only for the workers but also for the organization. Here are a few of the most common advantages:
1. Fielding the best team. As the marketplace becomes ever more competitive, putting together the best team for an assignment has become essential. The best teams get more done is less time, giving the organization a critical competitive edge. But the best people for a given team may be:
- Geographically scattered
- Working on something else at the same time
So it is necessary to provide tools that allow them to work together regardless of these barriers. Collaboration tools that support remote workers can bridge the gaps created by geography and provide secure access to corporate tools for contractors. Eliminating the need for commuting or travel frees up time that can be redirected toward working on the project itself.
2. Business Continuity. Every area is subject to the threat of some type of natural disaster or inclement weather that could result in the need to close the physical offices temporarily. This can also include less dramatic issues such as snow preventing travel for staff a power cut that could still cost businesses tens of thousands in lost productivity. And there are threats beyond weather (pandemic, fires, bomb threats, terrorism, etc.) that could result in longer closures.
Three quarters of teleworkers say they could continue to work in the event of a problem in the office compared with just 28% on non-teleworkers, according to Globalworkplaceanalytics.com.
In addition, a dispersed workforce reduces the impact of any type of issue at a corporate headquarters, as fewer people would be impacted and the systems would already be in place for continued operation.
3. Cost Reduction. There are several areas where organizations can save money through implementation of teleworking. The most obvious is the reduction in the amount of office space required. According to the New York Times, Aetna has saved $78 million in real estate costs, said Susan Millerick, an Aetna spokeswoman.
But there are other savings for employers such as reductions in electricity, absenteeism, and turnover, according to Globalworkplaceanalytics.com. Their research shows that teleworking saves more than $11,000 per employee per year.
A formal, randomized experiment conducted by researchers at Stanford University in 2014 found that teleworking resulted in productivity gains of 13% initially, and 22% later, for the company studied.
And that doesn’t include the potential salary savings. Research has shown that 36% of employees would choose teleworking over a pay raise. A poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that thirty-seven percent would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home.
4. Legislation Requires It. In the UK, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and caregivers. In the US, the state of Vermont and the city of San Francisco both passed legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working arrangements and requiring employers to discuss and consider these requests. In June 2014 the President issued a Presidential Memorandum: Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Program that gives federal employees the right to request work schedule flexibilities and requiring federal agencies to encourage the use of workplace flexibilities and Work-Life Programs. And New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has recommended “Right to Request” flexible work legislation for New York City.
There appears to be an increasing momentum for this type of legislation and organizations that get ahead of the curve will not be sidetracked if/when legislation mandating flexible work is passed in their area.
5. Employee Satisfaction. Many of us struggle to find a balance between work and the rest of our lives. Employees want the ability to address family responsibilities, reduced commute time, fewer distractions, and the freedom to enjoy life. But how important is it, really? Research shows that two-thirds of employees would take another job to ease the commute. It’s important. And teleworking offers real solutions to these concerns.
Research by Globalworkplaceanalytics.com has shown that 46% of companies that allow telework say it has reduced attrition. In addition, 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.
Furthermore, telework reduces absenteeism. Consider these statistics:
- 78% of employees who call in sick, really aren’t. They do so because of family issues, personal needs, and stress.
- Unscheduled absences cost employers $1,800/employee per year; that adds up to $300 billion/yr. for U.S. companies.
- Teleworkers typically continue to work when they’re sick (without infecting others).
- Teleworkers return to work more quickly following surgery or medical issues.
- Flexible hours allow teleworkers to run errands or schedule appointments without losing a full day.
- Employers can save 63% of the cost of absenteeism per teleworking employee, or $2086 per employee per year, according to Exploring Telework as a Business Continuity Strategy, 2005 WorldatWork.
It is certainly logical that employees who are more satisfied with their work environment are more likely to remain with a company and to be absent less.
Teleworking is not the answer for every employee, and the right technology must be in place to support it. However, teleworking has been proven capable of providing significant benefits to organizations and should be strongly considered by those who are not providing this capability today.
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