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The New Normal: Telework Is Here to Stay

by Alison Jones / May 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced workers out of the office and has led to a massive rise in telework. Many experts predict that telework will become the new normal. One thing’s for sure - telework to some degree is here to stay.

While the current focus is on keeping employees out of the office for safety reasons, telecommuting provides benefits for your business and your staff, too.

Benefits of Telework

Telework Solves Many Operational Challenges

Unless your business relies on foot traffic or direct interaction, it is likely flourishing during this pandemic, even though your office may be completely vacant. The bottom line is that your employees are still working. Modern technology has simply changed the way we do business.

Now imagine that telework could actually provide a solution not only to business challenges during the pandemic, but to many standard business challenges as well.

For example, remote work brings in talent from all over the country and even globally. This can help prevent businesses from spending money to relocate staff members, and can broaden the pool of available talent.

New technology is also emerging every year to support remote teams, which can actually enhance overall communication in your organization. There are several collaboration and communication platforms designed to focus communications in a way that can actually be more effective that just popping your head into a coworker’s office. Slack is one great example. Of course face to face is sometimes best, and there are plenty of video platforms to make this a breeze (with Zoom as king right now).

Telework also appeals to many individuals entering the workforce for the first time. They have been raised in the Internet age and expect to be able to work from mobile devices while on the go. Providing an option for telework can attract the right kind of talent to your organization.

Telework Can Save Money

By switching to a remote platform, organizations can save money not just on rent but on a host of other expenses as well. Expenses such as utilities, cleaning, maintenance, large office equipment, furnishings, security systems, plowing, landscaping, uniforms, carpeting, painting, and insurance. Just think how all these costs add up! And when you save money on operating costs, you have more money to pour into the real work of your organization.

Many businesses also save money on their benefits program. Working remotely cuts back on the need to invest in sick days and paid time off. If an employee is feeling a little under the weather, he or she can work from home without fear of infecting the entire office. Remote workers can also work anywhere in the world, a win-win for staff members who love traveling and for organizations who need to stay connected to their employees while their employees are on travel.

Your staff members also save money when they ditch the commute. They tend to spend less on Starbucks and lunchtime carryout, and they don’t have to pay as much on transportation expenses or professional attire. These savings help boost employee satisfaction even more.

Telework Contributes Towards Work-Life Balance

Working remotely helps provide a better work-life balance. Apart from the time and stress saved by not commuting, telework generally provides employees with more flexibility in their work schedule. This may allow them to attend to important appointments, be available for children’s activities, get more sleep, and have time for exercise or other physical activity. The ability to work ultimately leads to extra personal and family time, which is a huge benefit to employees.

Telework Leads to More Productivity

It’s important to emphasize productivity in the age of telework. When you work from home, you can generally focus on your work instead of being distracted by a chatty coworker or by other events in the office. Of course, a certain number of online meetings and employee chit-chat are healthy, but these events often end up dominating the work day. As a matter of fact, in one study, 75% of teleworkers cited the distractions of the traditional office as a primary reason they prefer telework.

The main challenge is learning self-discipline and time management skills. Regular communication can help motivate your staff members. In addition, when you manage with trust based on results, the productivity will speak for itself. If the results aren’t there, it is a larger performance issue that should be addressed. But history is the best predictor of future success, so those who were productive in the traditional office are highly likely to be productive when teleworking.

Telework Leads to Greater Employee Satisfaction

Remote work has been shown to boost employee satisfaction. According to a study by Harvard Business School, teleworkers report substantially higher job satisfaction than office workers, and turnover rates can be reduced by up to 50%. What’s more, researchers reported that productivity increased by 13 percent among teleworkers. You’ve heard the saying “Happy wife, happy life?” In this case, “Happy employees, happy company.”

Resistance to Canceling Telework

Once employees have been bitten by the telework bug, they will likely be highly resistant to returning to the office. After all, they’ve experienced many of the benefits of telework, and they want to continue their improved lifestyle and level of productivity. Several studies have shown that after experiencing telework benefits, the majority of workers prefer to continue working remotely at least part of the time. And for the small percentage who prefer to work in the office, they may feel safer working from home until a vaccine has been widely distributed for COVID-19.

Make Telecommuting Work for You and Your Staff

Given all the benefits of telework and the reality that there will not be a mass return to the workplace any time soon, it’s pretty clear that telework is here to stay. So the question for most companies is how to set up their telework shop to boost productivity, increase job satisfaction, and improve work-life balance.

We’ve written a host of blogs on the topic, so please visit our website at www.fentress.com. We are also available to work with you to set up the best teleworking environment. Contact us for more information.

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Alison Jones

Alison Jones

Alison is a senior consultant with a master’s degree in organizational psychology and a certification in health and wellness coaching. She enjoys reading, fitness, travel, and the beach.