Telecommuting- Is it Right for You?

Gas Prices are rising again, the potential for your staff to look for work closer to home is greater, staff and you come into the office frazzled (or late) due to traffic and perhaps traffic accidents, staff want to leave early to miss the traffic. Is Telecommuting an option for you? With the Internet and electronic data it is easier to connect with the office. 

Eye Bogglers

  • The Consumer Electronics Association commissioned a study which found that one day of telecommuting saves the equivalent of up to 12 hours of an average household’s electricity use. 
  • Research conducted by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish in 2008 shows that thirty-three million Americans hold jobs that could be performed at home. If they did, the U.S. could make major cuts in oil dependency. Based on their synthesis of data from EPA, DOT, and 7 other recent sources, they found that telework could reduce Gulf oil imports by 24 to 48%, reduce greenhouse gases by up to 67 million metric tons a year, and save as much as 7.5 billion gallons of gasoline each year. These new telecommuters would collectively avoid 154 billion miles of driving and save $25 billion in fuel purchases (even accounting for mileage for errands formerly accomplished driving to or from work). What’s more, their research shows that by not commuting, these new teleworkers would enjoy the equivalent of an extra 5 workweeks of free time each year.

Does it Work?

  • From Wired- “Studies have shown that telecommuters are every bit as engaged as their cubicle-bound brethren — and happier and more productive to boot. Last year,researchers from Penn State analyzed 46 studies of telecommuting conducted over two decades and covering almost 13,000 employees. Their sweeping inquiry concluded that working from home has “favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent, and stress.” The only demonstrable drawback is a slight fraying of the relationships between telecommuters and their colleagues back at headquarters — largely because of jealousy on the part of the latter group. 
  • IDC report from Asia found that 81 percent of managers believe telecommuting improves productivity, up from 61 percent in 2005. 

What can they do at home? 

  • Call Recall Patients
  • Answer the phone
  • Purge Files- I just got a call from a dentist yesterday, asking me if I was still a patient.  
  • Confirm Appointments 
  • Schedule Appointments 
  • Insurance Billing 
  • Accounting Work 
  • Any type of  admin, phone work or data entry

Should you Try it? 

Is a scary thought- how do you manage it? Is your staff trustworthy? Does staff have a ‘workplace’ at home? What technology do you need? How does it fit with national, state and local labor laws? Will it really increase productivity? There is much to consider. American Health Information Management Association (AHiMA) has a good outline of how to establish a Telecommuting program. TheOregon Board of Optometry has a Telecommuting Policy and Procedure guideline. Hedly Lawson had some very valid considerations in Vision Monday   

Top 9 Reasons to Telecommute

  1. Conserves Energy 
  2. Preserves Environment 
  3. Promotes Safety- less traffic accidents
  4. Improves Health 
  5. Improves Family Relations- offers people opportunity to share quality life with family 
  6. Improves Productivity
  7. Improves Employee Morale- saves them money- perk 
  8. Improves Employee Retention. 
  • “In a poll of 1,500 technology workers, 37 percent said they would accept a salary cut [of up to 10%] if they could work from home, according to Dice Holdings.”

    9.) Company saves money – via energy, office supplies and other materials 

TeleCommute Resources

  • National Transportation Library 
  • Telecommute Connecticutis a statewide initiative providing free assistance to employers with the design, development and implementation of telecommuting as a work-site alternative.
  • Telecommute Sacramento
  • Remote Office Centers- Remote Office Centers lease individual offices, phone systems, telecommuting services and infrastructure to workers from multiple companies in shared centers near where people live. 

My conclusion- Think carefully about your objectives and start small. Make a list of what can be done by telecommuting, and what you would like to be done by telecommuting. Investigate the options and maybe start with 1 person/a day a week. Track and measure the results. If working well, productivity up, consider investing in the technology and staff to make this an option for all staff, depending on their job description.

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