Telecommuting & the Office of the Future

home office workerTelecommuting has been a hot topic in the headlines recently. While the question of whether or not to allow remote workers is one that organizations across the nation are contemplating, recent survey results from Staples Advantage suggest the overall benefits for employees and businesses seem hard to debate.PREMIUM CONTENT: 2012 Contingent Buyer Survey: Online Staffing Services150 business decision makers and 150 telecommuters at organizations of all sizes across the U.S. were surveyed on questions about telecommuting programs, supplies and services provided, reimbursement and attitudes/behavior. Results revealed that telecommuting makes for happier employees, reducing absenteeism and stress – provided they can stay connected, engaged and productive.Nearly all (93 percent) surveyed employees agree that telecommuting programs are mutually beneficial, with 48 percent of remote workers say they are less stressed. Additionally, more than half (53 percent) of business decision makers state telecommuting leads to more productive employees.Telecommuting can be a great benefit to the contingent workforce, who may need to work from a home office on a project-specific basis.It is important to think strategically about all aspects of telecommuting programs to ensure cost savings, productivity and work/life balance,while understanding the importance of issues such as creating the proper office space.According to the survey, key areas for improvement included that 59 percent of telecommuters put critical and sensitive information at risk by not using the company’s data backup system, only 17 percent of business decision makers offer furniture, and nearly half (48 percent) of telecommuters do not use ergonomically tuned furniture, which can lead to discomfort, loss of productivity or injury.MORE: How to Manage Remote Contingent WorkersUltimately, key issues to be considered by business decision makers and telecommuters alike are:

  • Connectivity – With IT connectivity issues being a main concern for both parties, telecommuting programs should ensure easy access to email, document sharing, instant messaging and video conferencing.
  • Network Access – Provide remote VPN capabilities so telecommuters can easily access the network.
  • Data Backup and Security – Employees need to be educated about data backup and security best practices to avoid risky practices such as emailing sensitive information.
  • Ergonomics –Incorporate ergonomic furniture options into telecommuting offerings—59 percent of survey respondents would accept company-purchased, ergonomic furniture, which would create a healthier work environment.
  • Storage – Desk and drawer organizers, file cabinets and additional storage options help telecommuters minimize clutter and maximize space, making home office environments more productive.
  • Sustainability – Environmentally preferable furniture options not only help support individual employee and company green initiatives, but also help promote healthier work and living spaces.

These are major considerations with regard to the evolving workforce — telecommuting is here to stay, and businesses need to accommodate these changes. It’s important to consider implementation and improvement of telecommuting programs for companies of all sizes. Companies should look for vendors that can help create and implement telecommuting programs through customized packages for all remote working employees, with quick delivery and installation. Doing so will allow businesses to benefit from more productive, healthy and happy employees, regardless of where they choose to work.MORE ON REMOTE WORK ARRANGEMENTS: The Myth of Catfish in the Modern Workplace

Ed Ludwigson

Ed Ludwigson
Ed Ludwigson is vice president and general manager of Staples Technology Solutions, the technology products and services division of Staples Advantage. He oversees business development, marketing and sales.

Ed Ludwigson

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