Telecommuting is defined as a workplace arrangement under which employees enjoy flexibility in working hours and location. Telecommuting’s popularity stems from the advantages it offers to both employees and the employer. This helps employers and employees as they both find their objectives being met, which allows competitive advantages to flow to the firm and continued financial stability for the employee.
However, there is a bad side to telecommuting. Issues related to work life balance and physical, social and mental health of the employee, coupled with the need to develop a costly control mechanism are some of the hindrances that preclude full acceptability of this trend across the board.
To conclude, it is important to understand that telecommuting, as a tool is useful for employees and employers to adapt to if the business model implies. If this is not the case, only limited implementation can be useful.
Telecommuting is defined as a workplace arrangement under which employees enjoy flexibility in working hours and location. In simpler terms, employees no longer have to be physically present at a set location at a particular time period as the same is achieved through telecommunications.
As a trend, telecommuting is picking up with businesses across the board implementing it in one fashion or the other. From completely telecommuting businesses like certain e commerce web portals to large multi national corporations allowing expecting mothers to continue working from home, telecommuting has brought about daring changes to the traditional workplace.
Advantages of Telecommuting:
Telecommuting’s popularity stems from the advantages it offers to both employees and the employer. Take productivity for example. By saving on time spent commuting (which may range from 10 minutes to two hours in some cases) and being interrupted less by trivial things at the workplace, employees find they can concentrate more and get the task done as soon as possible and in an efficient manner. This helps employers and employees as they both find their objectives being met.
Staff retention is another advantage. Break a leg, expect a baby, move to Australia, squeeze in a vacation, telecommuting arrangements allow employers and employees to continue their relationship which allows competitive advantages to flow to the firm and continued financial stability for the employee.
If you have a workforce that mostly telecommutes, less office space, less office entertainment expenses, less investment in furniture and fixtures, not to mention the saving on fuel reimbursements are just a few examples of what employers stand to gain. Telecommuting also acts as a magnet for attracting the best workforce as employees are usually attracted by such arrangements. Absenteeism almost disappears as employees are near the issues that may require a leave (like a sick child) and thus, can manage dual attention, helping overall company productivity.
Another source of advantage for the employers is that telecommuting, by eliminating geographical and cultural boundaries and by addressing the needs of people with special conditions or those with illnesses precluding their ability to travel, allows employers to recruit from the best pool of individuals possible, helping in the generation of a core competency that may develop a competitive advantage and allow the company to compete effectively in the industry.
Disadvantages of Telecommuting:
However, there is a bad side to telecommuting. For one, the socialization needs of the employee would not stand met, as he is isolated from his co-workers. While the occasional chat around the office is a source of interruption, on the bad side, your going to be missing the lighter side of work.
Office politics is another issue. With telecommuting, one is confined to his job role. However, doing one’s job correctly and efficiently does not always mean one will grow career wise too. Office politics allows you to channel your work done efficiently to appropriate people at appropriate times and in an appropriate manner. This creates opportunities. Plus, “seeing is believing” and if one is not around the office place, one’s work should be noticeable.
The most serious issue is that people who telecommute end up over working. There is nothing to signal an end to the working day. No chatter of work mates rushing out of the office, the flood on the streets waiting for a bus to go home or the setting sun and the lights coming up in the shops on the streets. This effectively makes the employee think of himself as having a mindset which allows him to work continuously with no natural sociological happening to stop him. This leads to issues related to work life balance and could adversely affect the employee’s social, mental and physical well being and could be bad news for employers as they see productivity levels plummet.
Finally employers should understand that telecommuting arrangements require a system of monitoring and control so that they are able to check on the activities of the employee and see if he is performing better or worse then being present physically at a central work place location. This is important as the element of cheating is high and may effect the company’s well being. However, such a review and control system is difficult to develop and implement. Moreover, the cost element is huge.
To conclude, it is important to understand that telecommuting, as a tool is useful for employees and employers to adapt to if the business model implies so. However, traditional industries can only use this in a manner, which allows otherwise severed links to continue flourishing as the social costs of a labor force with low productivity and the economic costs of a control mechanism are too high for employers. The bad side for employees is that it becomes more difficult to be noticed at work while at the same time losing one’s physical, mental and social health in the meantime through over working.
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