A few months ago Staples Advantage conducted a survey on telecommuting and whether this benefit would provide a better work/life balance for both employees and managers.

The survey results show that telecommuting programs make for happier employers and employees, and they reduce absenteeism and stress. Gen X (ages 34 to 49) and Millennials (ages 18 to 33) rate better work/life balance as the primary factor for the desire to work from home as opposed to the Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 68), who rate transportation savings as the top reason.

Considering the gridlock in the Northeast, it’s not hard to understand why respondents named transportation savings (69 percent) as one of the top reasons why they wanted to telecommute.

A booming benefit

The phenomenon appears to be growing, according to a June 2011 report, The State of Telework in the U.S. from TeleworkResearchNetwork.com, the number of regular telecommuters in the U.S. is expected to reach 4.9 million by 2016. The Society for Human Resource Management found a greater increase in the number of companies planning to offer telecommuting in 2014 than those offering any other benefit.

What value would this benefit mean to your employees? Would you be surprised to know that many employees are willing to sacrifice other benefits to telecommute? Individuals might be willing to give up benefits that could save your company money, including salary. Has your business considered negotiating telework into the hiring equation? Do you have a telework policy in place?

Bumps in the road

From the surface, it seems to be a win-win situation for most, but challenges remain with adding telecommuting options into the equation, one of the largest being connectivity issues.

Access to high-speed Internet may not be as reliable to all employees at home. Couple that with the fact that most telecommuters aren’t trained in security or backup and you could be faced with more problems than you originally anticipated. In addition, generational differences come to play with regard to arming employees with the right tools to ensuring their productivity. Millennials seem to suggest mobile devices are the most important while the laptop holds more value to the older generations. Technology enhancements in the mobile app marketplace are certainly enhancing remote access capabilities for teleworkers.

Mapping your telework plan

The truth is that each organization handles teleworking differently.

Many companies are operating on platforms that are designed for local operations and over the years have worked remote access into the mix or have simply expanded outdated technology for remote access to satisfy the needs for telework. As the movement grows, being clear about what you mean about telecommuting. It’s the only way employees’ needs are met and the best way for partners to know how to build workplaces and determine what technology is needed to help you gain better control and grow your business.

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