Telecommuting - How to be a corporate here!

Save the day by helping employees with rising gas prices--your business will benefit too!

June 2008

Imagine what the increased fuel prices are doing to your employees' pocketbooks. What if you could help relieve some of their pain-at-the-pump? Did you know that implementing a strategic telecommuting program and allowing employees to telecommute just 1-day per week can not only save your employees over $1,000 per year on gas and commuting expenses, it can also provide significant benefits to your business and to the community?

So iron your cape and get ready for action--you may be the next corporate hero!

Why should you consider implementing a telecommuting program?
Companies are offering all sorts of incentives to help offset the increase in gasoline prices; temporary pay increases, corporate shuttle services, and gas-related cost-of-living raises. But telecommuting is more than a quick answer to increased commuting costs, it's a long term solution that offers numerous benefits.

Employees who telecommute benefit from:

Reduced Commuting Expenses
Employees telecommuting just 1-day per week can save as much as $1,100 per year on gas, tolls, parking, maintenance, and depreciation.

Increased Productivity
Fewer interruptions and distractions coupled with the reduction in stress enables employees to put a greater focus on work issues during work hours.

Increased Job Satisfaction
Telecommuters display increased motivation for their job, have higher morale, and have fewer absences.

Improved Health
Employees have more time for health and wellness activities such as exercise and meal planning. Doctor's appointments can be scheduled with greater flexibility.

Better Work/Life Balance
Instead of rushing to get on the road, employees have time to enjoy their coffee, read the paper, walk the dog, get their children to school, and still start work on time.

Reduced Stress
Commuting causes stress. When the grid-lock begins, blood temperatures rise, tempers flair, and employees start the day tense and irritable.

Reduced Child Care Costs
Most child care providers charge by the hour. Employees can reduce their costs by avoiding early drop-offs and later pick-ups.

Businesses that offer telecommuting benefit from:

Increased Productivity
Employees have fewer interruptions and distractions, and are able to work during the most productive hours. Reduced stress levels and increased job satisfaction keep employees focused on their work and eager to perform well, so as to keep their telecommuting situation.

Improved Recruitment
Telecommuting is an attractive benefit for recruiting new hires, and it allows employers to access a larger labor pool--regional, national, international, military spouses, retired, physically-challenged.

Employee Retention
Satisfied employees are less likely to seek alternative employment. And, employees who may need to relocate can take their jobs with them.

Cost Savings
Companies can achieve significant savings associated with real estate costs and overhead. Growth can occur without the need for additional office space. Smaller office spaces can be utilized with co-habitants sharing cubicles on alternate in-office days, reducing space and power requirements.

Fewer Absences
Employees call in sick less often with a minor cold or illness. And, instead of taking a personal day off for sick children, employees are able to keep their children home without having to miss work. Doctor's visits, appointments with insurance agents, teacher-conferences, and other personal appointments can be easily scheduled and managed without taking time away from work.

Business Continuity
Your employees will be able to continue business operations during bad weather or other emergencies. In 2006, blizzards shut down many Colorado businesses for up to 3 days, but companies with staff enabled to telecommute effectively didn't skip a beat.

Improved Customer Service
Employees are willing to stay longer and become more proficient. Higher morale and job satisfaction leads to improved customer satisfaction.

Enhanced Compliance
Telecommuting allows for enhanced compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Public Relations
Companies that offer telecommuting are often nominated by their employees as "best places to work," garnering press and media attention.

Communities with increased telecommuting benefit from:

Less Air Pollution
According to the EPA, the CO2 emissions from 1 gallon of gasoline is 19.4 pounds. As much as 1,900 pounds per year of CO2 emissions can be eliminated for every 1 employee who telecommutes just 1-day per week.

Reduced Traffic Congestion
Shorter commutes for those still on the roads means less stress overall, and fewer vehicles means fewer accidents/deaths.

Reduced Highway Maintenance Costs
Less wear and tear on transportation infrastructure reduces repair and maintenance needs, and requires less funding.

Reduced Oil Dependence
98 gallons of gasoline per year could be saved for every 1 employee who telecommutes just 1-day per week.

Safer Neighborhoods
Neighborhood crimes could be reduced by having more people home during the day. There would be fewer latchkey kids and increased adult supervision, resulting in fewer juvenile crimes.

Improved Ecosystem
There would be less vehicle-related runoff from roads, ensuring cleaner water and human health.

How do you implement a successful telecommuting program?
Now that you see all of the benefits of telecommuting, how do you make it work? Start by doing your research. The DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments) has extensive information on telecommuting (teleworking) that provides white papers, templates, guidelines and more. Most major cities offer similar resources.

Tips for implementing a successful telecommuting program:

Develop a Telecommuting Policy
Set guidelines and expectations accordingly. The DRCOG offers a sample telecommuting policy on their site.

Implement The Right Technology
Telecommuting programs only work if your employees have access to the data and applications they need to do their jobs. ITonCommand and it's hosted desktop and network solution is an affordable telecommuting technology solution that provides your employees with secure remote access to their entire corporate network, enabling them to work remotely as if they were sitting right at their workstation. You may want to utilize a VoIP system so it can appear employees are in the office. Most VoIP systems have a "remote office" feature that allows for making calls with any landline or cell, through the VoIP connection. Calls will come through as if they were dialed from your office.

Identify Ideal Candidates
Telecommuting is not a good fit for everyone. Ideal candidates will be self motivated, require little to no supervision, and have job responsibilities that are conducive to telecommuting. Have telecommuting employees sign a telecommuting agreement with specific terms and conditions.

Plan meetings when telecommuters are available to participate. Be sure to keep them in the loop so they still feel part of the team. Include telecommuters in day-to-day activities.

Manage Appropriately
Manage telecommuters as if they were sitting in the office. Don't ask for constant status reports or supervise too closely. You have to trust your telecommuters. Don't assume that because you can't see them or because they aren't providing constant updates that they aren't working. Remember, telecommuters generally have increased productivity.

Measure Results
Manage your telecommuting staff by measuring results, not by conducting curfew checks or calling to constantly check progress.

Use a Trial Period
Review performance at the end of the trial period to determine whether telecommuting can continue. If telecommuting does not work for a particular employee, be prepared to ask them to return to the office.

Why am I so sure a telecommuting program can work? Because I telecommute 1-day per week. In fact, I'm writing this article from my home office, and am looking to finish ahead of schedule. Thanks to IT on Command and their hosted desktop solution, I have access to my entire corporate desktop; email, applications, data, and files. Everything I need to perform my job is accessible via a simple Internet connection. I continue to meet my quarterly objectives, take on new responsibilities, and perform my job with great efficiency--my manager is quite happy. And I'm ecstatic! So far this year I've saved about $600 in gas and other vehicle maintenance expenses.

Last week my 4 year old son started playing in his first baseball league--he plays for the Mighty T-Rex! What a thrill it was for me to be there for his very first game, instead of sitting in grid-lock missing it.

ITonCommand, you are my corporate hero!

Telecommuting/Teleworking Resources and Articles:
The Telework Coalition
DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments)
Telework Beat - Network World
Gil Gordon Associates/Telecommuting, Telework and Alternative Officing
"Companies Help Employees Deal With Fuel Costs" - The Wall Street Journal - Career Journal
"Gas prices too high? Your employer might help" - Fortune Magazine
"Companies adjust to cope with gas prices" - Denver Business Journal (an ITonCommand highlight story)

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