Telecommuting, which allows people to work together from different locations, offers a wealth of opportunities for small businesses, including cost savings and the ability to quickly add specialized temporary workers. Telepresence tools, such as video conferencing, make telecommuting possible.
The U.S. government pushed teleworking long before many companies in the private sector gave it a second thought. A growing number of businesses now thrive on remote workers, providing services via the Internet, from writing to remote computer and network management. Here's what why should consider offering telecommuting for members of your team, too.
1. Your workers are more productive.
When they can work from home, they may have fewer distractions than at the office, not to mention a reduced commute time. Numerous academic studies and corporate surveys show that teleworkers are often happier and more productive than those at headquarters. Some workers may need supervision, but you can accomplish this through setting production goals rather than monitoring hours per day worked.
2. You can reach team members wherever they are, regardless of location.
Implementing telecommuting generally requires two things: an Internet connection and the appropriate software. Tools include remote-control applications, collaboration software, and video conferencing software. It may be easier to reach team members via the Internet than walking to their office.
Remote control apps such as LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, or Splashtop Remote Desktop let a user log in from home and control their work PC. Collaboration software such as Google Apps and Office 365 allow users in different locations to share documents, files, presentations, and other data simultaneously. And video conferencing software--such as Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Citrix GoToMeeting, or the free, multi-person chat enabled by Google+ Hangouts--facilitates group meetings.
3. You conserve office space and save money.
The remote worker not only furnishes his own desk and PC, but also electricity, snacks, water, bathroom, telecommunications bandwidth, phone service, and more. This lets you reduce your expenses for your office. Even if you reimburse some costs, such as Internet connectivity or phone use, you’ll still save on the square footage of office space required and utilities.
4. You reduce IT management time and equipment costs.
In general, remote workers provide their own connectivity and PC. While you may need to establish antivirus, collaboration, remote access, and other software, overall costs should be much less than managing the machines, network, and desktop software in-house. You’ll want to set standards, and perhaps implement compliance-checking software to ensure that no one who logs into your network is infected with a virus or has unpatched software.
5. You can take advantage of distributed, cloud-based IT functions.
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