Most telecommuting employees report that they’re more productive when they work from home – that is, unless IT problems get in the way.
More companies have begun offering telecommuting options, mostly due to positive reports from employees who have been allowed to work home. Those users typically report being happier and more productive, able to get more done in less time than they would in the office.
For example, British telecom company O2 conducted a pilot program last year in which employees were allowed to telecommute and then surveyed afterward. The results:
- 88% of employees said they were at least as productive as they are during a typical day in the office
- 36% were more productive, and
- The majority (52%) of the time saved by cutting out the commute was spent working.
While executives and managers in many cases have been reluctant to set workers free from the office, positive results like those have been making execs change their minds, according to a recent survey from Staples Advantage. In addition to the majority (93%) of surveyed employees reporting that telecommuting is beneficial, the survey also found that 53% of business decision makers also support telecommuting.
In addition, among the decision makers surveyed:
- 75% said they’ve noticed that telecommuting employees are happier than office-bound workers
- 48% said remote workers exhibit less stress, and
- 37% said telecommuting has led to fewer absences.
IT support for telecommuters needed
The bottom line: More companies are starting to let people work from home, and it will be IT’s job to support those remote workers. However, IT issues are often what gets in the way of productive telecommuting.
Among the telecommuters surveyed by Staples, 33% said technical issues were one of the biggest challenges of working from home.
Part of the reason may be that IT isn’t offering the right tools for telecommuters or properly training remote workers to use the technology that’s available. For example, 59% of the telecommuters surveyed said they don’t use a data backup system provided by their employer.
For remote IT support to be successful, IT must make sure remote workers have the tools they need to easily and securely access data and documents, as well as communicate with distant co-workers. In addition, experts recommend giving remote workers extra IT training to ease support woes, as well as train help desk staffers to provide better remote support.