Telecommuting, according to Margaret Tan-Solano and Professor Brian H Kleiner, “was first coined in the ‘70’s in a national transportation study to describe the potential for using telecommunications to give people access to information resources without requiring them to physically commute to a central work location.” Telecommuting became popular in the 1990’s because many companies were forced to downsize their companies and save additional money on operational and office expenses.
Benefits of Telecommuting
Company Benefits: Companies have many reasons to offer telecommuting to employees where the position makes sense to do so. The company can save money on office space and utilities; companies have the opportunity to recruit and retain top performing employees; the company will most likely see higher productivity from telecommuting employees; and employee turnover is reduced.
Employee Benefits: The ability to have flexible work hours, the reduced stress with the lack of a physical highway commute to and from work, the ability to spend more time with family due to flexible work hours and the lack of a commute, and the reduced commuting and work attire expenses are all benefits for the employee to telecommute.
Drawbacks of Telecommuting
Company Drawbacks: Companies have several drawbacks to having telecommuting employees. For example, supervisors may have to spend additional time following-up on these employees to ensure work is being done, employers tend to worry about employee procrastination issues, honesty in regard to actual hours worked, and if they have hired an honest and self-motivating employees. In addition, employers wonder about commitment levels of employees in these positions. Are they offering enough support to the employee and are they acknowledging the employee enough to keep them happy and motivated?
Employee Drawbacks: Employees also have drawbacks to telecommuting; although, most wouldn’t think there would be many, if any. An employee in a position like this has less of a chance to advance in the company because they are not in front of upper management, they may find it difficult to completely separate their work from their personal life (especially when children are at home all day with the parent), and they have a lack of a social interaction with their peers when telecommuting which can cause emotional detachment from the company.
Have you ever participated in telecommuting? If so, what was or is your experience?