A new expectation is being established by today’s employees that their workplace will enable them to work away from the office, particularly from home. In Australia, 51% of employees now use the Internet to work away from the office, according to Australian Government research. So if your business isn’t equipped for telework, you are already falling behind. But keeping up with your competition is not the only reason to do it.
Research has shown that telework achieves lasting productivity gains when well-matched to the teleworker, their role and their manager. Several key decisions need to be made to achieve this, however the reward is worth the effort. In a recent Stanford study [pdf] on work from home, the productivity of workers who chose to telework increased by 22%. In another more recent study, the Trans-Tasman Telework Survey Report, 71% of employees said teleworking has a favourable influence on their attitude towards the job.
Telework can save employers money
There are costs to be saved as well. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that home-based work that is part-time could save employers over $10,000 per employee per year. This is the result of increased productivity, reduced facility costs, lowered absenteeism, and reduced turnover. Increasingly many businesses are turning to work from home to reduce office costs such as leasing, utilities and parking costs. Meanwhile, employee turnover costs are higher than many organisations realise.
Last year we profiled Zac Zavos of Conversant Media, Using Xero and other cloud products like Skype and Gmail, Zac is able to work with staff in Sydney, writers around the world and his brother and co-founder in Austin, Texas, while Zac works from Newcastle. So worth having a look again at how teleworking and working in the cloud has changed Zac’s life:
Not only are the business rewards great but a business that enables telework is achieving both social and environmental good. When telework is managed well, it can considerably reduce employees’ stress. Employees value flexibility highly because it enables them to balance competing work and life demands and for employees who belong to a disadvantaged group, flexibility is even more important. Employees inspired with this opportunity are often inclined to contribute above and beyond. In addition, many employees appreciate not having to make the daily commute, and while they work from home their cars sit in the garage.
The reasons ‘why not’ to telework are often around the challenges. Two recent high-profile cases caused many businesses to ask whether telework is too hard. Both Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard pulled their workers back into the office, citing the need for collaboration. These decisions went against the trend. They also ignored the particular benefits of part-time telework, recently established by the Trans-Tasman Telework Survey Report. Part-time telework combines the best of both worlds – fewer distractions with opportunities to collaborate face to face with colleagues. Time will tell whether Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard have made a sustainable decision to their best advantage.
While part-time telework often overcomes many of the challenges of telework, other advice is available. The Australian Government recently released a Telework Kit to support businesses to implement telework during National Telework Week, 18-22 November 2013. Lastly, emerging companies are equipping Australian businesses to ensure their risks are reduced and productivity gains are achieved.
With the benefits clearly before you and the challenges reduced, the question quickly becomes “Why isn’t my business teleworking?”