The world we work in is changing due to the rise of telecommuting. Ten years ago employers would have laughed at the idea of a remote workforce, and now 60% of companies offer telecommuting opportunities. What was once a pipe dream is now a reality for 4.3 million US workers. The best part of this new workforce trend is that it benefits the employee and the employer. This week we will explore all the ways telecommuting is changing the workforce and the technology that is allowing it to do so.
Telecommuting and Productivity
Productivity is the key to success, for any business. Forbes found that two-thirds of managers reported an increase in productivity from their remote workers. They also found that telecommuters were more likely to work overtime, and felt a stronger sense of loyalty to their company.
A recent Gallup poll on the State of the American Workplace uncovered a lot of interesting information on the productivity of telecommuters versus their office-bound counterparts. According to their findings, the most productive employees work from home 60%-80% of the time. They are more engaged than any other group of employees working at home or in the office, and they are more likely to strongly agree that they have opportunities to learn and grow in their workplace. Interestingly enough, the least productive employees are those who work only in the office and those who only work remotely. In fact, the two groups had almost identical engagement rates (see chart to the right).
Telecommuting and Savings
According to Global Workplace Analytics “If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time (roughly the national average for those who do so regularly)” the savings would be more than $700 Billion nationally. That number includes
- $11,000 (per telecommuter) in savings for an average business
- Between $2,000 and $7,000 a year for the employees themselves
- A greenhouse gas reduction that would be equal to taking the entire New York State workforce off the road forever
Already some of the largest companies in the country are reporting millions of dollars saved from telecommuting. The aforementioned Forbes article reported that American Express alone saved between $10-$15 million dollars in operating costs by allowing employees to work remotely, and Aetna reported $78 million in savings after they downsized their office space. They also found that telecommuters are also more likely to stay at their jobs, saving companies an average cost of $4,000 per employee.
Telecommuting and Health
We all know that living a healthier life starts with setting healthier eating, sleeping and exercise habits. ConnecectSolutions found that
- 42% of remote workers are eating healthier
- 45% are sleeping more
- 35% are getting more exercise.
Another health benefit to working remotely is that you are less likely to get sick when working from home. The majority of Americans will go to work sick, whether they are contagious or not. Naturally, your chances of catching said sickness will go up exponentially being in the office, around these sick folks. According to Forbes, if you do fall ill, working from home allows you to recover faster.
What about mental health though? The data on the mental health benefits are mixed, and sometimes contradictory, simply because different things make different people happy. According to leading software developer PGi, 82% of those polled agreed that they felt less stressed when working remotely. Stress has been adversely linked to everything from anxiety and depression to chest pain and headaches, basically wreaking havoc on every aspect of our health.
At the same time, loneliness has been known to have similar effects, and social isolation is always a fear when working out of the office. According to Gallup, not all remote workers feel isolated though. That same group of employees who are most engaged in their work (employees who work remotely 60%-80% of the time) also feel the most connected to their coworkers. They are more likely to say that they have a best friend at work and that someone at work cares about their well-being, and encourages their development.
Telecommuting and Traditional Commuting
According to Time Magazine, commuting is really what most impedes the health of the traditional worker. Your work commute can be the cause of multiple health issues, including:
- Higher blood sugar, contributing to the continued rise of diabetes in the US
- Higher cholesterol, which is a well-known sign of heart disease(the leading cause of death for men and women in the US)
- Back pain, for those of us who have a habit of slouching while driving
- Spikes in blood pressure, accompanied by an overall rise in blood pressure over time
- Negative mental health side effects, including anxiety, depression, and a decline in happiness and life satisfaction
For the first time in US history people can work where they live instead of living where we work, and that kind of freedom would never be possible if it were not for technology. OTELCO is proud to provide the tech tools to make telecommuting possible, including:
- Office 365: A Unified Communication tool that allows you to access all the same, rich Office features on your PC, Mac or Mobile Device through a native app or streamed live from the Web. Communicate and collaborate with such powerful tools as One-Drive for Business, SharePoint Online, Outlook, and Skype for Business.
- Desktop Virtualization: Desktop virtualization through Citrix XenDesktop Hosting allows you to securely store all your desktop data in a flexible storage environment. With Citrix, you can access everything on your work computer on any other device, without
- Hosted PBX Phones: HPBX phones have a variety of features that allow you to work from wherever there is Internet!
- High-Speed Internet: Our Lightwave fiber-optic Internet makes it possible to run all these tools and more from your home network, without having to sacrifice speed or reliability.
Telecommuting and the future
Telecommuting is the future of business. Since 1996 the number of telecommuting opportunities has grown three-fold, and it is expected to continue to grow as technology progresses. Given the current data, we can only assume that a larger remote workforce will only be beneficial to productivity, the economy, individual health and the environment. If you are a business owner and would like to learn more about telecommunication technology, download our business technology guide today!