~ Smriti Jha
The term ‘telecommuting’ was coined by Jack Niles who worked for NASA communication system. In the year 1972, he announced to work remotely and continue to telecommute with the office.
This further got fuelled by Frank Schiff when he called it “flexplace” in 1979 and wrote an impressive article Working from home can save the Gasoline in the Washington Post. This post is often credited to popularize the concept of telecommuting.
The innovators didn’t stop here. In 1994, on September 20, the day was celebrated as “Employees Telecommuting Day,’’ and since then the concept of working from home aka WFH is booming across.
Telecommuting means less time in traffic and fewer distractions, leading to more productivity, in addition to more flexibility in the personal lives of all employees.
Recent study findings on how telecommuting boosting work productivity
Nicholas Bloom carried out a study for a big Chinese travel agency firm. As per his study when the work from home option was rolled out to the entire company and employees were given a choice to telecommute, the productivity gain rate was 22 percent.
Another study from Global Workplace Analytics states that ‘the number of telecommuting workers has increased to 115 percent in a decade. And employers can now, actually save over $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year.’
Why Employers are acclaiming Telecommuting?
Company’s ultimate intention is to get business from their workforce without investing much in them. Allowing employees flexible work hours are giving more comfort. Employees too feeling motivated.
To top it up, allowing employees to telecommute can reduce absenteeism, sick leaves and their associated costs. If employees are happier, turnover rates will be lower and HR’s burden of new-hire entire training procedure costs will decrease.
What telecommuters or WFH employees have a say?
There is no fixed check-in time at the office. This removes the stress to reach office on time by beating the morning traffic jams or catching a local transport. Time and money are saved each day when employees telecommute.
Telecommuting has profound benefits. However, like every bean has its black, there are some cons too.
Major downsides of WFH employees
Yes, there is a gap between daily office goers and telecommuters. However, employers can manage to curtail this distance and improve camaraderie among employees in the workplace.
Instead of having meetings/conference calls over the phone, using VC or Skype would be a better option. Talking and sharing your thoughts face-to-face creates a better connection.
All such employees should be a part of the pre-schedule office meets and events. The employer can ask them to be included in team building activities or simply for casual meets or meet for a fun hour outdoor.
Dealing with distractions while telecommuting
Be it the disturbing sound coming from at or around your place, it is ultimately going to hamper your work performance. You can also get a surprised guest knocking at your artificial workplace or the society function can interrupt in your work.
Such inevitable distractions may hit at your door anytime unless you have prepared yourself in advance.
As advances in technology continue to deliver us the comfort, the acceptance of telecommuting will only continue to grow. The future of telecommuting looks vibrant, more than what Jack Niles would have ever imagined!
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