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Telecommuting Trends: the Pros and Cons of Letting Employees Work at Home

Work at home

The Danger of Letting Employees Work at Home. The Benefits of Telecommuting.

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With downsizing, layoffs, and tax increases, small business owners are looking for ways to cut costs. And offering the option of telecommuting to employees is a great way to save on office expenses. So read on, business owner, and let's explore the pros and cons of letting employees work at home.

What is telecommuting?

Telecommuting, or working at home, is a work arrangement between the employer and employee. The number of companies that offer flexible work schedules and work-at-home opportunities is growing. For over ten years, the number of full and part-time telecommuter's has been growing rapidly, gaining more market share than any other form of transportation.

What are the dangers of allowing employees to work at home?

There are certain things that small business owners need to be aware of when offering the option of telecommuting to their staff.

Productivity is an issue.

How can you be sure that your employees are working and not sitting on the couch in their robe? To begin with, the employer needs to make certain arrangements before allowing employees to work out of their home. Employers should issue a company computer to employees that work at home before the work-at-home arrangement begins. This is important because the employer can document what software is installed on the computer before it is issued to the employee. The employer can then specify (in writing to the employee) what is allowed on the computer and what is a 'no-no'. With an office issued computer, employers are in control and the work performed is easier to monitor. Employers can specify that once a month, the computer is to be returned to the office for IT staff to perform a tune-up. At that time, backups can be made, the computer can be scanned for viruses, and data can be checked for inappropriate use.

How much is your employee working?

Have your employees sign off on a time sheet every day and fax it to the employer. This way, the employer is better protected from being sued for over time salaries. We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping documented time sheets. Yes, in the beginning, the employer may have a stellar relationship with this employee. But as time progresses, this may change and a well documented work history is protection against a malicious law suit.

Are work-at-home employees loyal employees?

Some employees are not as loyal to their employer if they work at home. The special comradery that exists, for example, between soldiers that have experienced combat together simply does not exist with work-at-home employees as much as when employees see and interact with their co-workers on a daily basis. And because employees have access to confidential company information, trade secrets, and proprietary information (which is the lifeline of small business), it is important to note that there may be a level of vulnerability for employers.

What are some of the benefits of telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a wonderful way for employers to cut costs. And with today's economy, any way to save money is welcome. What are some of the other advantages of telecommuting?

Telecommuting offers valuable incentives to employees to stay with their employer.

Every employer knows that attracting good employees is expensive. And retaining good employees is equally as expensive. By offering the option of telecommuting to employees, small business owners are able to maintain staff longer, which is reason enough for offering this time-saving option. Changing just one key employee can have dramatic impact on the future of a company. Therefore, business owners must pay special attention to attracting, retaining, and rewarding employees critical to the success of the company. Telecommuting gives employees an incentive to stay and saves business owners money.

The flexibility of working at home helps to save on costs.

Many employees like the flexibility of working at home. They save considerable money on gasoline, work attire, and numerous other work-related expenses. Employers also can save on expenses when offering this option to employees. There is less office overhead if the employee works out of their home. The employer can save on office rental expenses, company lunches, gasoline, and utilities, among many others.

Telecommuting is green.

By utilizing a hosted pbx phone system, employers can offer employees the option of telecommuting daily or only a few times each week. VOIP phone providers offer smart tools that allow employees to telecommute, which saves employees money on gasoline. Telecommuting and the use of virtual offices are evolving into a popular environmentally friendly option for companies. Taking just one employee off the road for a year is equivalent to removing approximately 13 tons of green house gases

Telecommuting is a dream for many people. Working from home can be a benefit for employees looking to have more flexibility, save on gasoline, and live a less-stressful lifestyle.

Small businesses are the life blood of America and telecommuting is becoming a significant part of the small business culture in America. Proceed cautiously.

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