The question of whether or not to implement a telecommuting program is a hot one for businesses today. And the numbers show growing interest in the flexibility that telework provides; since 2005, telecommuting has grown 73 percent across all sectors, including a remarkable 474 percent increase in the U.S. federal government alone, according to the workplace flexibility consulting group Global Workplace Analytics.
As an increasing number of younger, technology-savvy employees enter the workforce, the growth is likely going to continue. Millennials, in particular, have come to appreciate and even expect the freedom that always-on technologies can provide in terms of workplace flexibility.
Luckily, the benefits of telecommuting aren’t solely for the worker. According to Global Workplace Analytics, a telecommuting program can potentially reduce costs for your small business in a variety of ways:
1. Reduce Office Space
By encouraging a telecommuting workforce — even a part-time one — companies can cut down on the amount of office space and real estate required to accommodate their in-house employees. Depending on a company’s size and needs, office space can be acquired for a minimal number of rotating seats — or, in some cases, even eliminated entirely.
2. Minimize Absences and Productivity Losses
The stresses of the modern worker, including grueling commutes, parenting responsibilities and unexpected illness, can sometimes lead to unscheduled and unplanned absences. A telecommuting program may afford your workers the flexibility to balance their work and home responsibilities: On average, companies with a telework program report 63 percent fewer unscheduled absences, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
3. Lower Equipment Costs
In addition to lowering real estate expenses, having part- or full-time telecommuters in your workforce means you might be able to lower the cost of keeping your office stocked with equipment and supplies. While many companies provide some equipment for home-based employees, with fewer employees in-house, your small business can still likely reduce its spend on typical office supplies and equipment, including monitors and desk stations, desk phones, copiers, etc.
4. Travel Costs
If you or your employees are constantly on the go, visiting prospects, clients or investors, your travel budget can quickly get out of hand. One technology that makes telecommuting so appealing is the ready availability of streaming HD video that doesn’t kill your company’s bandwidth. Video conferencing solutions, like iMeet for instance, let you have personal, face-to-face meeting experiences from the cloud on laptops, desktops, smartphones or tablets. If your workforce is equipped to work remotely, you can easily bring in clients, partners, vendors or prospects for virtual meetings without the costs of airfare, lodging or meals.
5. Expand Your Candidate Pool
With a telecommuting program in place and your company equipped with the latest in cloud-based conferencing technologies, your company is afforded a considerable amount of freedom when pursuing new talent. By expanding job candidates to include full-time telecommuters, your applicant (and talent) pool is not restricted by local geography. And, if you currently cover the cost of airfare for candidates flying in for interviews, you can potentially reduce your hiring costs by eliminating this expense or confronting the question of steep relocation expenses.
While the debate over telecommuting may continue, it’s clear that, with the proper technology and strategies in place, there can be significant savings for your small business, whether you’re a long-time business owner or just beginning a start-up of your own.
Josh Erwin is a blogger for PGi, meeting experts and providers of video conferencing and collaboration software solutions. Josh explores technology trends and their impact on consumers and companies of all sizes. For more on the benefits and challenges of successful telecommuting, download “The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting,” a free eBook from PGi.
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