Ask Matt: How Do Employers Generally Feel About Mixing Telecommuting Into One's Work Schedule? What Are Some of the Advantages and Disadvantages of It?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: May 9, 2011 - 8:38 AM

With the advances of technology, more and more workers and employers are open to the idea of employees working from home. Here are some advantages — and disadvantages — of both as well as some tips on how to make it work.

Dear Matt: With the world becoming more digitally connected every day, how do employers generally feel about mixing telecommuting into one's work schedule? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages?

Matt: Lisa Frame, a Twin Cities HR professional, said she has seen an increase in the number of employers who are embracing telecommuting (aka working from home) as a recruitment, retention and even green solution.

"As employees continue to seek ways to balance work and life, many are remaining as productive, if not more productive, through work at home arrangements," said Frame. "Additionally, organizations that offer some form of telecommuting are reducing the number of vehicles on the road, thereby providing a green solution and helping their employees who shoulder the cost of fuel to get to work."

Here are some pros and cons of telecommuting along with tips on how to successfully work from home, according to Frame:

ADVANTAGES

- Increased retention, employee satisfaction and employee engagement.

- Studies show that employers experience less unplanned absences from their workforce.

- Studies also show an increase in worker productivity from their telecommuting workforce, as they are not interrupted by casual conversation in the office.

DISADVANTAGES

- Risks that should be reviewed by HR pertaining to potential workers' compensation issues if the employee injures themselves at home while working.

- Employees may miss out on the brainstorming and collaboration that is part of "group think" within a traditional office setting.

- Managers need to understand how to measure performance in different ways than the traditional model. "It becomes more metrics driven and based on objective data, rather than weighted with daily observation of the employee at work," said Frame.

"A mutual understanding of when the employee is working should be established," added Frame. "Some employers do not mind if the employee works before or after core business hours as part of their schedule as long as the work output goals are met. Communication is key.

- Matt Krumrie
Twin Cities freelance writer specializing in career advice

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