The Astron Road Show
There’s one stop on the Astron Road Show coming up later this month! On May 31st, National Director Mike Maciekowich will present at the Society for Human Resource Management of Tompkins County’s 2012 conference. Mike’s topic is “Designing an Effective Total Rewards Strategy to Meet Today''s Economic and Regulatory Demands.” Click here to learn more about the conference. And if you’ll be in Ithaca, NY on May 31st, please stop by Astron’s exhibit booth at the conference and say hello!
Telecommuting Concerns…Are They Blocking the Progress of the Flexible Workplace?
Back in 2008, research firm IDC predicted that 75% of the workforce would be mobile by 2012. In contrast, the Telework Research Center reports that only 2% (2.8 million) workers identify home as their primary location of work, and 17.2 million people work from home at least one day a week. Additionally, Forrester Research reported in 2009 that 34 million Americans work at least occasionally from home, and predicted that by 2016 that number will jump to 63 million. There is definitely growth in the number of telecommuters, but also some evidence of hesitancy on the part of employers in pursuing this alternative work arrangement.
Interestingly, 40% of U.S. workers indicate that they can do their jobs from home. And with the upsurge in informational jobs over industrial jobs, the confidence is understandable. Offering benefits such as a reduction in physical office space, utilities, and overhead, teleworking / telecommuting seems like a sure win. Employees also benefit with the reduction in travel costs and time, and possibly even a better work / life balance due to flexibility. Some have even stated that productivity increases for some when teleworking / telecommuting.
So why the hesitancy? Ted Schadler, President and Chief Analyst at Forrester Research points to psychological factors. “Some bosses think if they can’t see you working, you’re not working…and if you’re worried about losing your job, you’re going to come into the office every chance you get.” Trust is a primary issue for both sides. Managers may feel as though they lose control when they can’t physically see those for whom they are responsible. Building trust on both sides can be tricky. We are used to seeing each other in the workplace; it’s a security to know that we see each other. An employee can see her interaction with the boss and gauge whether she is being valued for her work. A manager can see his subordinates working and can be reassured that no one is giving subpar work. Regardless of the countless benefits, you do sacrifice the security of face to face communication when venturing into the telecommuting realm. Include the possibility of a breach in security or the inappropriate revelation of intellectual property and confidential data, and many would rightly hesitate in creating a telework program. We must never forget that sometimes, technology can fail.
Team morale is also a serious concern. Some workers actually need the support provided by the physical presence of other co-workers in order to accomplish their part of a team effort. It makes us question if it’s even possible to build a team when the team members aren’t physically around each other to build camaraderie.
With dedication and an open, optimistic mind, the answer is yes. Teams can be built virtually. With broadband piping is available in over half the homes in the United States, teleconferencing is an option. By having regular communication with the virtual team via video / phone conference, instant messaging, and e-mails, you can ensure all that they are valued, whether they are in the office or work offsite regularly. Provide scheduled face-to-face meetings. Project kick-off meetings are a prime example of this. With team members spending most of their time away from each other, seeing each other at the beginning of a project can foster collaboration. This meeting also will allow for team members to get a clear understanding of the tasks at hand, and gauge how they can best interact with their team members.
Despite the growing numbers of teleworkers and the many benefits of teleworking, there is a recognizable concern for the possible consequences of rushing into such a work environment. If teleworking is feasible for the organization and its jobs, cautious steps should be taken in order to ensure trust on both sides. Thorough research into technical equipment will be needed as well. With such a unique setting for a workspace, a special effort must be taken to keep the organization cohesive and help make the teleworking / telecommuting workers feel valued.Share the article: