#work-life balance#work from home#telecommute

Telecommuting: Three questions to ask before letting your employees work from home

|Mar 24|magazine10 min read

The ability to work from home is the major benefit of telecommuting for employees. For employers, the draw is to have happier workers that are more efficient.  In addition, the company requires less office space if some or all of its employees work from home. However, the telecommuting phenomenon has not caught on throughout Australia.

Is telecommuting right for you?

As more companies transition to telecommuting, you may wonder if it is the right choice for you. You have to understand the telecommuting trend and how your company can handle it to know if it will work for you. While studies have shown that there are numerous benefits for the company that allows people to work from home, that option isn't feasible for everyone. To determine if your business should transition to telework, you must answer these three questions.

1. Do jobs within the company lend themselves to working independently?

While this is obvious in some industries, it is not always the case in others. To telecommute, people must not need direct interaction with other employees or systems that are not available online.

2. Do you have a policy in place for telecommuting? If not, can you create one?

It is essential to have policies in place to govern telecommuting and the rules surrounding it. For instance, will employees be expected to attend meetings in person? How will telecommuting employees be monitored and evaluated?

3. Does telecommuting benefit staff and the business?

If no benefits are seen, this may not be a viable option for your company.

Is telecommuting the new trend?

Statistics show that only about 16 percent of employees are able to work from home on a regular basis. This is based on a study done by the University of South Australia and its Centre for Work + Life. The 2011 census found even fewer had the privilege of working from home. While these numbers are low, that doesn't mean that telecommuting is non-existent. In fact, these numbers only represent those who work from home full time.

Statistics show that about 25 percent work from home at least one day a week, even though they may not have a formal agreement with the employer. There are also a few companies that buck the trend and do their own thing by allowing full-time telecommuting.

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Industries such as education, financial services, travel and tourism and export often allow their employees to work from home. Major cities such as Sydney, Perth and Brisbane have higher telecommuting jobs than smaller communities. Another study from Melbourne University shows that telecommuters start work earlier, work longer and accomplish more. At the same time, they have more energy and less stress. The study shows that more informal teleworking is being done than what is seen in formal statistics.

Teleworking is being backed by the government as it has set a goal to have at least 12 percent of employees telecommuting at least part time. And some businesses are willing to promote the idea. For instance, Microsoft Australia allows employees to work wherever they want as long as they do their jobs. In fact, there are few actual offices in the company's offices. Instead, they have workspaces designed for collaboration and for transforming to telecommuting.

Many experts still believe that telecommuting is the wave of the future. Is your business ready to be part of the trend?

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and careers.