Technology today makes it easy for businesses to let employees work from home. Offering secure remote access gives employees the flexibility to work on the road, at events, or from home as if they were at their desks in the office. Is this good for small businesses?
"It's amazing how someone's IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them... People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves."
- Tim Ferriss, 4 Hour Work Week
There is a lot of fear that if employees that aren't attached to their desks they aren't as productive. After all, how can you tell they are working effectively instead of slacking off?
There have been plenty of studies on this over the years, and the results show that employees who have the flexibility to work from home are more productive. In fact, 67% of businesses confirmed that their staff was more productive, according to a 2008 study by CompTIA Research.
Beyond just productivity, there are plenty of long-term benefits that aren't instantly visible. Businesses can see cost savings by allowing employees to work remotely. Fewer employees in the office means fewer desks and computers, and that reduces electricity bills. It also produces happier, healthier workers who are more satisfied with their jobs, and in return have greater performance and stability. In other words, if employers release the reigns on employees, it can pave the way for better practices, innovation, and better productivity. Telecommuting can be seen as a huge perk for employees raising children, allowing them to be home as opposed to paying for daycare or other supervision.
The real question businesses face is whether offering the ability to work from home is right for them. Obviously some industries don't have that opportunity - manufacturing workers and doctors tend to need to be onsite to perform their best. The roadblock that most companies get caught up on is how productive their staff will be.
These days it's a good idea for businesses to invest in some scalable infrastructure that supports remote access simply because of the benefits of being able to access files and applications from anywhere. These same technologies, including virtual desktops, terminal servers, and voice over IP, are the recipe for telecommunication and are cost effective to scale.
Businesses that do adopt remote access for staff need to do so non-begrudgingly; when an employee is working from home, the instinct seems to be to compare their job to a vacation when in reality the employee takes their work seriously. This perception can lead to higher expectations such as immediate responses to emails and instant messages, while it's generally understood in an office environment that immediate responses can't always be achieved. Trust and respect will always go a long way, and can greatly improve productivity and motivation.
Is your business thinking about offering employees to work from home (or anywhere else, for that matter)? Contact us at 607.433.2200 to learn more about cost-effective, scalable solutions to provide your best employees the freedom to be productive from anywhere.