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High Gas Prices Drive Telecommuting

Introduction
With the high gas prices and no relief in sight, have you ever thought wished you could just scrap the commute? Have you ever thought that the work you do can be done from home or from almost anywhere?  How would working from home improve your life?  Unfortunately, not all employers are open to the idea of allowing the workers to work from home.  More and more, employers are considering the option of telecommuting and all the benefits that come along with it.

Factors Affecting Telecommuting

Whether you have the option to work from home or work remotely, largely depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Nature of the work
  • Relationship with your boss
  • Company culture

Some jobs are more suited to telecommuting than others.  For example, telecommuting is not suited for work that has to be performed on-site typically with special equipment like in construction.  Likewise, it is not suited for jobs like for example, retail where do you need to have contact with customers.  However, many office jobs can be done, wherever there is a computer and Internet connection in a telephone.

The relationship you have with your boss can really determine the likelihood of a telecommuting arrangement.  There has to be enough trust between you and your boss to make this kind of arrangement work.  Many management employees think that they should be entitled to be able to telecommuting.  Some view the decision to work from home or remotely as a natural extension within their management discretion.  The argument here is considering all the overtime, responsibility, and accountability that most managers have, and considering the kinds of decisions they are authorized to make, you should have the authority to decide to work from home.

Many employers, even though they may be open to the idea.  Do not see this as a management title.  For these employers telecommuting is a right and a privilege that must be earned.  Based on an employee’s track record.  The granting and maintaining of such privilege will be based on track record as well as performance.

Company culture is also a large factor in the ability to telecommute.  In some companies, your boss may support your desire to work remotely, and the nature of your work allows you to do so, but the concern is the company culture.  In these kinds of companies face time is everything.  There is pressure on both you and your boss to be visible.  We all know that the amount of hours you put in does not equate with the qualify of your work and your productivity, nonetheless these kinds of work cultures do exist.  (It is this kind of work culture that likely inspired the Seinfeld episode where George leaves his car parked outside Yankee stadium all the time so that his boss thinks he is putting in long hours. But then George travels far away from work and has to have Jerry go to Yankee stadium to remove old fliers and other incriminating evidence which indicates that the car has just sat there).

Making Your Case

As mentioned, telecommuting can provide many benefits for both the employer and the employee. For employers, it can help reduce absenteeism.  If employees have the ability to work remotely, it will reduce the need for time off to take care of elderly parents and children and so on.  Also, the ability to telecommute during flu season will help prevent the spread of colds by letting employees might be coming on with a cold to work from home.

Benefits for Employers

Office Space.  Employers can reduce the cost associated with office space with the idea of telecommuting.  Allowing employees to telecommute can help manage the high costs associated with commercial space.

Improved productivity.  Employers can enjoy improved productivity throughout the year.  Work disruptions and absences due to extreme weather are no longer a problem.  In the North during winter, people are sometimes snowed in or roads become too icy for employees to commute to work.  In the South and in most places in Asia, there are certain times of the year when employees cannot commute to work due to rain and flooding.

In some cases, employees can even improve their own productivity because they feel the need to prove that they’re doing work.  In addition, there is more time in the workday, from the time saved in commuting.

Going green.  The biggest new buzzword for corporations is the green strategy.  Environmental responsibility has become important to corporations.  Supporting telecommuting is an excellent way to demonstrate environmental responsibility.  By allowing employees to work 2 to 3 days a week from home, corporations can reduce auto emissions by half.

Improve employee engagement, recruit and retain talent. With the competition for talent in the current labor market, offering employees the ability to work remotely, can help an employer’s strategy to recruit and retain talent.  It can also help with improving employee engagement since employee surveys often indicate workload, work-life balance and stress are important issues and telecommuting can offer a way for employees to better manage their work-life balance.

Benefits for Employees
Teleworking can provide many benefits for employees.  Benefits include reducing the amount of personal time you take, improved for activity and efficiency from reduce commuting time, improved work-life balance and so on.

Reduced expenses.  The high price of gas is making news almost every day.  For those workers who must commute, especially those with a long commute teleworking can reduce your costs significantly.  It can not only reduce the cost for gas and other costs such as parking, vehicle maintenance, and so on.

Worklife balance.  When surveyed it is not uncommon for nearly 50% of employees to cite that they feel that their work stress is unmanageable and they cannot maintain their work life balance.  Again, teleworking can provide the flexibility needed to achieve and maintain worklife balance.  Just think what you can do with all the time that you save commuting.  A former colleague of mine, who lives in the suburbs, but works in the city once calculated the amount of time she spent commuting to work and from work in her 15 year career.  With the commute of nearly an hour each way.  She calculated that  the time she spent in her car equated to about 300 days!

In summary, telecommuting can provide many benefits for both you and your employer.  It’s good for the economy, the environment and can help you better manage your work life.  It’s time to wind up this post.  Before you pitch your employer consider if your work is suited to telecommuting.  If so, then make your pitch explaining the benefits to your boss.  Until next time, we wish you much luck and success in your career.

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