The Cons of Telecommuting

Over the past decade, more and more companies have tried out telecommuting strategies in different capacities with varying degrees of success. A new report finds that telecommuting may be on the decline in the 2010's.

CNN Money is reporting that "it's true that telework reduces pollution, improves productivity, and cuts real estate costs for employers while increasing retention and employee loyalty. But no matter how advanced the technology, something is lost when face-to-face contact disappears. Indeed, a new report found that the number of teleworkers declined in 2010 for the first time since data collection began nearly a decade ago. While there's no denying that telecommuting can provide tremendous benefits, organizations are finding that virtual collaboration has its limits."
 
It is possible for telecommuters to feel disconnected from coworkers, especially if they work quite a distance away from one another. Why? Because they likely have never met their team members face to face; email and webcam introductions work for some but they are not a substitute for a real introduction and handshake. For this reason, it may take longer to build a working relationship and rapport with coworkers via Skype and email. 
 
Additionally, part of the working relationship is built around non-working activities: coffee, lunch or after work drinks with coworkers. Socializing with coworkers creates friendships out of work mates, which can reinforce a positive working relationship.
 
Experts say that it is possible to counteract this isolation by showing your face around the office from time to time, especially when a new employee joins the team. That way you can have a face to face meeting and reconnect with old coworkers. The frequency and feasibility of "popping by the office" is obviously dependent on what the distance is and your company's travel policies.
 
Whether you are working from home or in an office setting, you need to practice good health and work safety to avoid work injuries. For office workers, repetitive motion trauma like carpal tunnel is a risk that may be overlooked when working from home. Why? Because employers are likely to do ergonomic assessments and post health and safety standards to avoid employee work injury. Not so at home. 
 
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Bradley S. Dworkin shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.

All Work and No Play? No Way.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Companies are trying to bring more play to the workday. Striving to make everyday business tasks more engaging, a growing number of firms, including International Business Machines Corp. and consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., are incorporating elements of videogames into the workplace.

 
They're deploying reward and competitive tactics commonly found in the gaming world to make tasks such as management training, data entry and brainstorming seem less like work. Employees receive points or badges for completing jobs or meeting time limits for assignments, for example. Companies also may use leaderboards, which let players view one another's scores, to encourage friendly competition and motivate performance, experts say."
 
Adding play into work is one more way that employers are trying to think "outside the box" to acheive employee productivity and motivation. With a younger, more dynamic workforce coming in to take the place of retiring baby boomers, companies have to get creative and go beyond traditional "perks." Other options cutting edge employers are offering include:
 
Travel Benefits: Many large national and multi national companies regularly allocate money toward corporate transportation and apartments. Now many are offering those same resources to employees during their off-time as well.
 
Flexible Schedule: Employers are starting to realize that as long as the work is getting done, they do not care where or when. As a result, telecommuting and flex-time are becoming more and more prevalent.
 
Free Lunch: Some large companies, inspired by employers always at the forefront of the "best of" lists, provide complimentary food and beverages for employees.
 
Fitness Benefits: Many companies have an on-site fitness center or offer employees a fitness benefit. The next logical step is to encourage employees to use the facilities by making it part of the corporate culture. The result will likely be healthier employees – upping productivity and decreasing incidence of work injury.
 
Getting Involved: An increasing number of employers are sponsoring community service days or encouraging some type of community outreach during work time. It is a great way for employees to connect with their community without sacrificing time or their paycheck – which might otherwise be prevent them from doing so. 
 
These are just a few examples of ways that employers can show their employees that they are valued and encourage them to take breaks and have fun to increase productivity. While not all of the above are a good fit in all industries, the basic principle is the same: happy employees often make the best (most productive) employees.
 
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Bradley S. Dworkin shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Company Designs Office to Encourage Telecommuting

Headset manufacturer Plantronics believes that telecommuting is a great way to encourage flexibility and employee productivity. For this reason, their new office space is designed with the expectation that most employees, on most days, will be working from home. As a result, the office space does not actually have enough desks for each employee.

Fast Company reports,"Plantronics is hardly the first company to encourage its employees to telecommute, but it’s still rare to find an organization that’s so dedicated to the idea. It might be a little bit of an adjustment to people used to sitting at work all day every day, but the generation just coming out of school–the one that’s used to having instant access to people through cell phones, Skype, and email–expects nothing less. With gas prices steadily climbing, the prospect of working remotely three days a week seems especially attractive.

And Plantronics has no limits on how often employees work from home–it just asks that they make sure their home workplaces are ergonomically safe."

There is a growing trend toward telecommuting that is fueled by two major factors:

1. Commuting Costs: As gas and energy prices rise – and consumers become more aware of consuming energy as a result – physically commuting to work can become costly. So costly, in some situations, that employees consider taking jobs closer to home that pay less.

2. Employee Expectations: Younger generations are increasingly "plugged-in" and mobile. They know how to communicate from anywhere using multiple technological tools and programs – and they jump at the opportunity to do so.

Multiple studies show that in spite of concerns about employee productivity, workers feel empowered by the freedom to complete work tasks where and when they choose. By enabling them to work in a comfortable environment and time frame, employers are reaping the benefits of maximum productivity and at the same time eliminating costly overhead for maintaining physical office space for all employees.

One interesting topic of note about telecommuting that many employees overlook is the "ergonomically safe" piece. For this reason, workers who plan on working from home on a regular basis need to make sure they set up a home office or work space that accomplishes the following to guard against work injury:

- Chair that is adjustable to ensure that you are seated properly at the correct height and angle.
- Correct keyboard tools and placement to avoid possible carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Computer monitor screen positioned correctly at the proper height and distance to avoid eye strain.

DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Bradley S. Dworkin shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.