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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

Does Telecommuting Work for Small Business?

March 12, 2015

Telecommuting is becoming more common among small businesses and large corporations, alike. According to the United States Census Bureau, an estimated 20 to 30 million people work at home at least one day a week.Telecommuting and small business - does it work?

Employees appreciate telecommuting as an employee perk - it saves time and money commuting. And the benefits aren’t just for employees. Telecommuting can save businesses costs in a variety of ways. However, is it really productive for small and growing companies?

In this article, let’s look at the pros and cons of telecommuting for small business.

Pros of Telecommuting for Small Business

1. Reduce Overhead Expenses

Telecommuting can reduce expenses such as office space and equipment. For example, a company could acquire an office space with a minimal number of rotating seats, or in some cases, even eliminated an office entirely.

2. Minimize Absences

Telecommuting leads to fewer absences because it provides employees the flexibility to balance their work and home responsibilities. For example, allowing an employee to work from home when a child is sick prevents lost productivity for that day. It supports a healthy work-life balance.

3. Increase Productivity

Speaking of productivity, telecommuting is also shown to have increased productivity. Many small businesses think that if employees aren’t as closely supervised production will decrease. But, the opposite is actually true. Employees can have fewer distractions working from home, and tend to work longer hours. 

4. Expand Your Candidate Pool

Having a telecommuting program helps small businesses attract top talent. Many top candidates see telecommuting as a perk of working for a business. Additionally, full time telecommuting positions open your business up to a larger candidate pool - from anywhere in the world.

Cons of Telecommuting for Small Business

1. Reduced Collaboration and Communication

With telecommuting programs, attention needs to be paid to communication and collaboration. Without structured communication (meetings, planned facetime, etc.) the collaboration between team members can suffer.

2. Accountability

While it is true that many employees are more productive when they work from home, low producers can fly under the radar if not managed correctly. To manage accountability, set specific work expectations for telecommuting employees or only allow employees a telecommuting option after they have established a reliable work history.

3. Security Risks

When a small business sets up employees to work from home, security risks can be a concern - especially for certain confidential industries such as healthcare. To manage this risk, conduct home visits to make sure each employee has proper technology in place and have written technology security procedures for telecommuters.

4. Less Connection to Company Vision and Culture

When employees work from home, it can be harder for those telecommuters to connect to the company vision and culture. To manage this, require telecommuting employees to call in to company meetings, attend special company events, and require regular in-person or video facetime.

Conclusion

Does telecommuting work for small business?  Yes. From reduced costs to increased productivity, allowing employees to work from home has clear benefits to small businesses. At the same time, there are some cons for small businesses to acknowledge and manage.

What would you add to the list of pros and cons? Leave a comment.

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