Telecommuting is a big aspect of working life for many people, with evidence suggesting that more and more workers are interested in doing it sometime in their career – if not now.  The global pandemic has pushed telecommuting – or remote working / working at home – to ‘stardom.’  In fact, many workers choose this option in the post-pandemic world.

In the US alone, 55% of employees prefer to work remotely at least three days a week.  29% of them even chose to quit if they are ‘forced’ to office after the pandemic.  From the employers’ side, the sentiment is pretty much the same, with 83% admitting that telecommuting is a successful business strategic decision.

Businessman telecommuting
photo credit: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels

Telecommuting sounds fun. And familiar. But what exactly does it involve? And how can it benefit the employee and the employer?

What is telecommuting, anyway?

Telecommuting is the process in which an employee fulfils his working duties away from the office, i.e., usually by working from home. It has become a hugely popular phenomenon over recent years and in a wide range of countries, as businesses realise the massive benefits to be gained for the worker and the company from this arrangement.

Why is telecommuting so beneficial?

One of the leading arguments in favour of telecommuting is the better work-life balance that can be achieved from this way of working. By working from home, employees no longer have to partake in the daily commute to and from work, which can save valuable time and money.

Employees also sense a greater level of satisfaction from completing their tasks in their own environment, and levels of concentration are said to be elevated when working from home.

Are there any downsides?

Telecommuting isn’t, however, for everyone. Certain jobs demand the physical presence of the worker in that working environment, so some jobs just don’t suit this method of working.

Employees who choose to telecommute must also be quite disciplined, in terms of avoiding distractions at home, as well as ensuring they are organised and able to work well on their own. Some employees enjoy the buzz of working in an office and can thrive from this environment; working from home can, however, be solitary.

Businesswoman telecommuting from home

Considerations for implementing a telecommuting policy

If an organisation or employee is considering telecommuting, there are various aspects to weigh up first.

Having the appropriate resources to complete the job as if the worker was at the office is vital to ensure that telecommuting is a success.  As technology advances, this is making telecommuting much easier, enabling better access to shared information and communication. However, issues such as confidentiality of company information and security still need to be addressed before a worker begins telecommuting.

Some workers may find that telecommuting is positive for certain aspects of the job and for maybe one day a week, rather than every day. In this case, telecommuting can offer a good balance between being in the office and working from home.

An organisation will need to decide which workers are suitable for telecommuting, based either on specific roles or work ethics. Bear in mind, also, the effect that this might have on those workers who aren’t deemed eligible; it can impact on their morale and thus productivity.

A business would need to ensure that the telecommuter can still communicate with co-workers in an effective manner whilst being off-site and an organisation should be able to offer the same level of support.

Productivity is often considered greater when workers telecommute but an employer needs to devise a way to ensure that this is measurable when an employee works away from the office. Setting targets and deadlines can help achieve this.