Careerbuiler.com recently listed “Flexible Work Arrangements” as the number two hiring trend for employers in 2009. The listing was based on the results of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, which questioned more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals in private sector companies.
According the survey, around 31 percent of employers plan to provide alternative work arrangements as a benefit to their employees, with 48 percent of those employers considering telecommuting as an option. Additional research from Gartner Dataquest in 2007 estimated that, by 2009, nearly 14 million employees would be telecommuting more than 8 hours a week.
Several factors are fueling this increase, including uncertain gas and real estate prices, a growing concern for the environment, and a greater acceptance by management and executives of the telecommuting concept. Improvements in the technology that supports telecommuting – also referred to as teleworking – are another contributing factor.
In the article “Home Warriors,” posted in July 2008 on the site www.Economist.com, the author points out that “the rapid penetration of broadband in the home, easier and cheaper forms of IP telephony, more robust VPN (virtual private network) software, plus a new generation of powerful laptops that are true desktop replacements” are helping to fuel the telecommuting movement.
Small businesses can create win-win solutions by outfitting employees with the right technology to enable them to work from home and still get the job done. Companies realize a win via cost savings and increased productivity. Connecting employees via a VoIP phone system can reduce communications costs by allowing employees to use their broadband connection to place phone calls, as well as for data transfer.
A robust VoIP phone system, such as TeleVantage, also allows a company to integrate each employee’s cell phone or home phone with the company phone system. By doing so, the company can create the impression of having one central office even though workers are disbursed in multiple locations – reducing the amount of office space needed and cutting overall operational costs.
Studies have shown that telecommuting employees can be 30 to 40 percent more productive than their in-office co-workers – potentially because telecommuters have a tendency to work longer hours. By implementing unified messaging into a communications infrastructure, small businesses can build on this increased productivity.
Telecommuting employees could check voicemail, e-mail and fax messages all directly from their desktop PC or laptop. Furthermore, these messages can be easily be responded to from any remote location with an Internet connection. So, telecommuters can be accessible from any work site they chose – home office, satellite office, or even a favorite coffee shop.
Of course, employees can also realize a win from telecommuting with the correct technology to support them. A VoIP system like TeleVantage allows them to continue to feel connected to the “office” via presence management. When a telecommuting employee logs in to TeleVantage, he or she can see the status of each employee and quickly call or instant message co-workers using the ViewPoint or by dialing an extension.
Taking connectivity a step further, call handling via TeleVantage allows employees to seamlessly reach each other. Your telecommuting employees can easily transfer or conference calls to one another or to a physical office location, using their home or cell phone, as if everyone was working under the same roof. They can feel like part of the office even though the work out of the office.
For the employee who is making or taking calls constantly, commercial headsets are a must to ensure quality sound and ergonomic comfort throughout the workday.
Backed by the right technology, telecommuting truly can be a win-win for small companies and their greatest assets – their employees. By reducing costs and increasing productivity and employee morale, the growing telecommuting trend has the potential to help small businesses gain a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
To learn more about the technology available to support telecommuting, or to discuss how communications is crucial to your plan to implement telecommuting in your business, contact Alternate Access today at products@AlternateAccess.com or 866-831-9270.