It turns out that allowing employees to stay at home leads to healthy workers, and a healthy business in turn. Many employers are skeptical of such practices, such as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who revoked several hundred yahoo employees’ telecommuting privileges early this year. Fortune Magazine reports that Mayer claimed that increased collaboration and innovation were the driving forces behind her decision.
Unfortunately, decisions to end telecommuting ignore the many benefits of the practice, such as increased productivity, employee retention, and overall workforce health. They also ignore some of the modern tools that make working from home easier and more manageable in general, like VoIP Internet phone services with powerful system management tools.
Healthier Living Working from Home
Erik Hanson, a Lund University research scientist, sampled 12,000 commuters and found that "car and public transport users suffered more everyday stress, poorer sleep quality, exhaustion and, on a seven point scale, felt that they struggled more with their health compared to the active commuters." Healthier workers are more productive than unhealthy ones, and also miss less work due to fewer sick days. Healthy workers are also happier and better motivated.
The study also found that the more time workers spend commuting, the less healthy they generally are. By promoting telecommuting and having workers do assignments from home, workers have more time to be productive with. This ends up with as a net win for both employees and employers.
Telecommuting also promotes healthy lifestyle choices for employees. It’s easy to grab a healthy snack from the pantry or the refrigerator, which helps avoid the temptation of grabbing unhealthy fast food as part of a commute. Home exercise programs are also a good way to keep healthy, and much easier to implement than an in-office gym.
Telecommuting also increases productivity since workers have fewer distractions to deal with. Working at home is a quiet environment, and a study by Stanford University showed that remote employees are around 13% more efficient because of this.
Employees who are trusted to work out of the comfort of their own living room are also more loyal to their employers, increasing worker retention and motivating them to work harder for a company that they respect since the company trusts them. Since communication is also limited, it teaches employees to value the time spent collaborating, and waste less time with idle chit-chat.
As noted by Harvard Business Review’s Scott Edinger, working remotely makes people try harder to stay connected, and maximize the value of time spent communicating. When compressed into limited amounts of time, teams make better use of tools than they would in-person, where it is easy to stick with half-baked ideas.
VoIP Internet Phones Bridge the Gap
One tool that makes telecommuting easy for both employee and employer is Internet calling with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. VoIP is an alternative to traditional landline phone systems that uses far fewer utilities, leading to a phone solution that is cheaper, has a higher voice quality, and has several powerful features included for free.
One reason why VoIP is perfect for telecommuting is the fact that it can link multiple offices, including home offices, into a single phone network. Once the phone lines are consolidated, employees can enjoy making unlimited calls on an internal network to one another, no matter where they are located. In fact, most business VoIP providers offer unlimited nationwide calling regardless.
VoIP also allows for maximized mobility in a workforce through mobile phone apps, which connect smartphones to a business VoIP plan. Not only can these phones make calls on the company’s network, but they also have direct access to call management tools for adding or adjusting phone lines on the fly. This ensures that a business always has exactly as many phone lines and extensions as are needed.
VoIP phone systems provide the infrastructure to help businesses make the most out of their telecommuting scenario. An efficient network for telecommunication helps a business become more productive and more efficient, while also keeping employees happy. Happy employees make happy businesses, and telecommuting is one of the most direct methods for achieving this.