How Flex and Telecommute Make Better Employees

With more companies offering flex schedules and letting employees work from home, you might wonder whether your business could benefit. After all, if you can’t keep an eye on your employees, how can you be sure they’re doing their work?
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In fact, studies show that employees may be more productive when they’re working when and where they want. It might seem counterintuitive, given that they’ve got the distractions of home life calling like a siren song when in their home offices, but consider how many times your average employee gets interrupted in a day:

  • People stop by their desks to chat
  • They get up to get coffee and end up talking to a co-worker
  • Unnecessary meetings keep them from working on their tasks

Being at home means they’re focusing for several hours straight on getting work done. Many telecommuters find they get more done in less time, without the “water cooler” distractions they have in your office.

And what about flex? If you think about it, most employees don’t need to get work done during the 8-5 period, unless they are managing others or need to work in teams. So writing, programming and admin tasks could be done any time — even in the middle of the night. As an employer, you should care only about output and let your employees manage their own time.

Benefits

Companies that offer flex and telecommute options find a lower incidence of employee absenteeism. If an employee is sick, rather than taking a full day of sick time, he is able to work a partial day from home without losing a day off that he may need later. Workers with small children appreciate being able to take off work early to get their kids, and then can finish their day’s work in the evening.

All these perks to employees mean you build morale and trust. Companies that offer alternative work options have lower turnover and lower overhead costs. Imagine how much you’d save if you could run out of a smaller office, using fewer office equipment and utilities. In lean times, even large companies like HP are shutting down entire office buildings in favor of work from home options, and the savings are surprising.

I don’t think we’ll be able to go too many more years without flextime and telecommuting as the defacto, at least for most jobs. It’s going to become a competitive advantage in getting the best recruits to your company. Are you on board?

If you haven’t considered these as work options for your company, start slow:

  • Choose a handful of employees you know are reliable enough to manage their own work and let them telecommute a day a week.
  • If that is successful, roll out the program to all staff.
  • Offer flex time as an option, and determine who is eligible on a case by case basis.
  • Check the cost savings and productivity levels, then determine whether you want to go 100% virtual.
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