The Future of Productive Workplaces: Telecommuting
There is little doubt that communication and collaboration technology has made working remotely easier and more effective. Many of the barriers that had traditionally limited telecommuting no longer exist, and as a result, 21st century workplaces including Apple and Google have openly welcomed the trend. The standard of spending 40 hours a week sitting in a cubicle is no longer a requirement in all workplaces, as employers and workers embrace the benefits associated with telecommuting.
For leaders who are yet to embrace telecommuting, a primary concern they hold may be the productivity of the remote worker. This is certainly a justified concern, as not all employees are self-motivated and self-sufficient. For employees that thrive in a remote work environment, telecommuting can improve productivity, which has obvious benefits for both the employee and employer.
A study conducted by ConnectSolutions on the benefits experienced by remote workplaces found that 77% of workers reported greater productivity while working off site, and 30% were able to accomplish more in less time.
In traditional workplaces scheduled and often unnecessary forced interactions can drain time and diminish productivity. However, in remote companies communication is ongoing and organic, helping remote workers to be more efficient, productive and engaged, both individually and as a group. Playing a vital role in enabling remote workers to maintain high levels of productivity include collaboration platforms such as Dropbox, Skype, Google Docs and Basecamp.
The promotion of a work-life balance
Maintaining a balance between work and personal life can be difficult for employees who struggle to leave work behind after hours. Remote companies however understand the importance of this balance, and encourage it by allowing their workers to telecommute when required. In turn, employees feel valued and can become more invested in the companies they work for, motivating them to perform to the best of their abilities.
When working remotely, 53% of telecommuters reported reduced stress levels, 45% were able to get more sleep, and 35% reported increased physical activity, all of which positively contribute to maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
Furthermore, the National Communication Association found that working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates, with employees who telecommute for the majority of the work week experiencing greater job satisfaction than those who worked mostly in the office.
Employers benefit from telecommuting too
Trust, freedom, feedback, change and communication can go a long way to making remote work experiences meaningful for the employer and its workers. Remote workers are forced to be responsible for their time, and consequently are highly accountable for their results. Telecommuting can also reduce costly staff turnover, as the employee can flexibly manage their workload, and experience greater job satisfaction. ConnectSolutions found that 52% of telecommuters reported they were less likely to take time off from work, even when they were sick, and 23% were willing to work longer hours because of the flexible work mode – two statistics that employers would love to hold true for their workforce.
What do you think?
Are you or have you been a remote worker? Have you had a positive or negative experience working remotely? We’d love to hear from you. Comment to share your experience.
This article was written by Megan Baker on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, The UC Buyer, Work Flexibility, CIO