Telecommuting: Is It Right For Your Business?

One of the hottest trends in the HR world recently is an increase in telecommuting, or working remotely. This can mean you work from home, on the road, or even overseas. Obviously there are many jobs where this is downright impossible. Retail workers, medical staff, garbage collectors and many other professions simply have to be present to do their jobs. What about those that don’t, though? There are millions of people who commute to work every day, and it begs the question: should they? Even amongst jobs that don’t technically demand an employee’s presence, telecommuting isn’t for everybody. Below are some pros and cons, so you can ultimately decide if it’s worth it to you. 


Environmental Benefits

One of the most obvious pros for putting telecommuters under your employment is the benefits to the environment. Your company can lower its carbon footprint by simply limiting the number of people who are driving to and from work every day. The longtime benefits of this can be pretty substantial. Often times employers with a focus on sustainability can promote the fact that their employees use less fuel in commuting, and thus increase their public image. Ultimately, however, we must ask ourselves: how badly do we want to live in a world where “rush hour” isn’t a thing?

Employee Satisfaction

Allowing employees to work from the comforts of their home will make them happier and less stressed, which in turn will increase productivity. Without their morning commute or the pressure to dress up for work every morning, they will be more well rested and ready to tackle the day. Not to mention the average telecommuter will typically spend the time they’d usually be commuting on actual work. Furthermore, these employees will feel empowered and trusted, and this will encourage them to put in the extra effort to better your company. 

Cost-Effective for Employer

Aside from the increased productivity, there are other ways your telecommuters will save you money. I recently wrote a blog that exemplified the amount of time and money wasted on company meetings per month (a whopping thirty-two hours; equivalent to four full work days). One of the ways to prevent this is by having your telecommuting employees only attend those meetings that are absolutely necessary. Additionally, those workers who stay home will have less unscheduled absences as a result of children stuck home from school, poor road conditions, etc. They’ll even be less likely to call in sick themselves since they won’t have to leave the house to get any work done.


Difficult to Manage

Anybody whose job involves Human Resources of any kind is aware of the Department of Labor changes coming up this December, 2016 (more information here). This will pose an issue for those non-exempt employees since it’s a lot more difficult to track hours worked. Employees who get a little over zealous might work more than the standard forty hours in a workweek and either spark overtime issues or simply burn themselves out. And of course there’s the opposite issue that they will exaggerate hours worked if there is nobody there to monitor them, and get paid for a full workweek when they in fact worked much less.

Resentment Amongst Colleagues

Very few companies are run in such a manner that every employee is able to work remotely. Oftentimes there is a fair amount of resentment that builds between workers who can and can’t work from home. Those stuck in the office have many reasons to envy those who don’t even have to put on pants every morning, but alternatively telecommuters will find they often get left out of certain parties and events. There will no doubt be concerns about employee collaboration, too, since many coworkers will find that communication is limited to calling, video conferencing and email.  

Legality Issues

There are multiple legality issues to consider before making the decision to hire on telecommuters. One big issue is that the legal line is somewhat blurry when it comes to injuries sustained while on the job but working remotely. There is also a risk of receiving discrimination claims from employees who are denied a request to telecommute. Make sure you consult a legal professional before allowing employees to work from home so you can avoid any issues and stay in compliance with the law. Once you’ve done your research, weigh these pros and cons heavily before deciding if telecommuting is right for your business. 

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