Can telecommuting help recruit and retain IT staff?

One benefit that might help companies win the war for IT talent: telecommuting. But why don’t more IT departments let staff work from home? 

Many companies are struggling to hire IT talent right now. There’s a lot of competition for jobs, especially in new and important areas such as cloud computing and mobile development.

However, many companies are still keeping their budgets tight so they may not have funds available to offer higher salaries to job applicants — or to give raises to current staffers and prevent them from looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

But there is a benefit that costs next to nothing and could help companies improve their IT recruiting and retention: telecommuting.

The chance to work from home is top job perk that IT employees want, according to a report from IT recruiting firm ProTech. Among the 1,083 IT pros surveyed, 28% listed flextime and the opportunity to telecommute as the best benefit they’ve been offered by a current or previous employer. That was the top answer by a wide margin, beating out other options such as:

  • Annual and signing bonuses (17%)
  • Additional vacation time (8%), equity (8%)
  • Travel opportunities (7%), and
  • Tuition reimbursement (7%).

Time to expand telecommuting in IT?

However, when IT departments deal with telecommuting, it’s most often because they’re the ones who have support telecommuting employees in other parts of the company.

Part of the reason is that many IT roles require a presence in the office — for example, help desk support and other troubleshooting.

But there are also plenty of IT duties that are well-suited to working remotely — and could even be done more efficiently and effectively by some staffers while they’re telecommuting. That may include coding and other jobs that require long periods of concentration with minimal interruptions.

In a lot of departments, IT staffers perform a pretty varied range of tasks, so opening the doors for full-time telecommuting may not be feasible. But another option is to allow IT staff to telecommute, say, once a week, so there’s a rotating schedule and the company can make sure it has enough staff in-house on any given day.

Does your company have IT staff who telecommute? What benefits and challenges have you seen? Let us know your experience.

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