17 Apr The Growth of Telecommuting and How Your Business Can Respond
The world is always changing, and improving technologies continue to make it possible for people to work, play, or even relax just about anywhere. Thanks to better, faster, and farther reaching internet access – and a wide assortment of laptops, tablets, and smartphones connected to it – people are working from home now more than ever before. If your business hasn’t considered hiring telecommuters, now is the perfect time.
How Many People Work from Home?
According to an analysis of data from the US Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people who telecommute increased a staggering 159% between 2005 and 2017. In the last decade, remote work has grown by 91%, and 3.4% of all employees in the United States work remotely. That’s about five million people. Fully remote work is by far the most popular type of employment because it gives people flexibility that a traditional in-house job simply could not provide.
Benefits of Hiring Telecommuters
Many business owners mistakenly believe that employees working from home are not as motivated as those in an office setting, but this simply is not the case. In fact, there is evidence to suggest otherwise from numerous sources. One study even suggests that remote workers actually put in 1.4 more days per month than their office-based coworkers, which indicates that working remotely may increase productivity. Other benefits include:
- A happier workforce. People who can work in the comfort of their own homes are happier and they stay at their jobs longer than their counterparts. This might lead to a reduced turnover rate and a better overall business culture.
- Reduced costs. Companies that utilize a remote workforce spend far less on office space, utilities, and technology. Many people working from home utilize their own internet access and devices, but in other cases, and especially in customer service positions, employers may provide access to software and their own VoIP network.
- Access to a wider talent pool. Hiring locally greatly limits your access to talent, particularly if your company is situated in a less-populated area. When you choose to hire telecommuters, you can hire people from anywhere in the country. This means you’re no longer limited to nearby talent and you’re far more likely to find the perfect team.
- A workforce that understands technology. Telecommuting used to involve sending an IT specialist to employees’ homes to set up telephone and internet service along with software, computers, and more. These days, most telecommuters are perfectly comfortable doing it on their own, and the vast majority already have broadband internet access to power things like VoIP customer service calls or even conference calls with their remote coworkers.
Though not every industry is well-suited for telecommuting, many aspects of most businesses can be handled remotely. For example, if you have dedicated customer service agents standing by to answer phones and assist your clients and customers, these employees can work from home rather than in a cubicle. Web designers, writers, graphic designers, and others can all do their jobs from just about anywhere.
Getting started is as simple as analyzing your workforce and determining which positions are suitable for at-home work. Then, if you already have employees, you can start by asking them how they feel about working remotely. If not, you can seek new talent on sites like Indeed and build your network on LinkedIn. Finally, make sure you can provide the software and services your remote employees will need. This includes any proprietary software your company might use, Unified Communications software and equipment if needed, and a dedicated support service for your remote workers to call if they have questions or concerns.