In the last months we have suffered a global pandemic that has affected our way of life in many aspects, including work. During this time we have seen how millions of people have had to learn to adapt to telecommuting.
This measure has revealed a very complex reality that has shown Spain is one of the countries that has made the least progress in promoting this type of work. According to data from the INE (National Statistics Institute), only 14,8% of Spanish establishments applied telecommuting before the pandemic. This number has increased during the confinement to stand at 48, 8%.
The telecommuting experience has many advantages for the employees. In fact, between a 50% and 70% of workers prefer not to return to the old model of face-to-face and rigid work, according the surveys that we have access. Also there are some drawbacks, which the managers highlight. The main one is the doubts about if the physical absence will negatively affect to productivity, innovation and work team.
What is telecommuting?
For many people, before the pandemic and the mandatory home office, the idea of telecommuting was work in pajama, do not having to wake up early and being able to organize free time through the day. But, after the last months experience, we all know that this image is far from the reality.
Telecommuting is a way of work done remotely through the use of computer and telecommunication tools. In other words, telecommuting is carried out far from the central offices. Until now it was an alternative done sporadically. From now on, it becomes part of the work routine in the company.
Although it is an option that offers greater flexibility and the possibility of combining work and family life, it must be borne in mind that it also requires a strong commitment from the company and the worker based on the clarity of objectives, the estimation of efforts and confidence in the execution of task in quality and quantity.
The most common myths
There are two preconceptions or myths about telecommuting that are not truth. The first is that working from home we work less. Many people believe that because they are not physically controlled by the boss, employees who work from home work much less. But there is nothing further from reality: most employees who work from home agree that they find it difficult to know when to disconnect from work and that is why they dedicate more hours to it. The truth is that the good face-to-face employees are good working remotely and vice versa. The distance not increases or decreases the commitment that people are with their profession.
Telecommuting requires a new form of discipline and self-control than working in the office, but not to work less, if not to work more. Have clear objectives, an adequate effort estimation and necessary tools are key factors for a successful telecommuting for the company and the individual.
The second myth is not having to get up early and have a very flexible schedule.
Telecommuting certainly provides flexibility of schedules to get organized by the day and saves important time in transfers to or from the office. But demands a new routine and time organization considering the availability of the employee to achieve the agreed production without having to do any more or less efforts.
The advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting
Change the office to work some days from home is an option that has its advantages and disadvantages for the employee and the company, and especially for the environment.
Advantages for the employee
- Greater flexibility of schedules. Telecommuting allows us to adapt the work schedule according to our needs. We can choose in which parts of the day to spend the 8 hours that we have committed to the company.
- Personal and work life balance. As a consequence of the above, we can better organize the time dedicated to our family, friends and leisure.
- Savings. Avoiding transfers to work, meals away from home and relax or reducing our wardrobe, can allow us to have extra savings every month. Taking into account that new energy and telecommunications costs will be incurred in the home that will have to be negotiated with the company.
- Less stress. Working in a safe and emotional well-being environment produce a positive feeling. So our stress and anxiety levels tend to decrease.
- More productivity. Telecommuting allows us better time management. By eliminating unproductive tasks and interruptions that occur in the office, we can focus much more on tasks that add value. A study from Standford University reveals that employees who telecommute are 13% more productive than those who work from the office.
Advantages for the company
- Cost savings. Apply telecommuting allows companies to reduce their infrastructure and service costs on-site by saving space.
- Best candidates. Being able to work from anywhere on the planet makes easier for companies to hire better candidates without place being an impediment.
- Reduces absenteeism. Offering the employee more flexibility to balance his work and personal life tend to reduce absenteeism.
- Keeping talent. Give the possibility of telecommuting is a way to loyalty the most demanding professionals who value this as part of improving their life quality.
Advantages for society
- Pollution reduction. Avoiding mass journeys to and from work by car or public transport, each person stops emitting an average of 7.81kg of CO2 daily with a clear positive effect on the environment
- Decreased energy expenditure. Telecommuting makes it possible get rid of a central office, which allows reduce the company costs and helps the environment.
- Fewer accidents. Decongesting traffic lanes we collaborate with a better fluidity of vehicles and the number of accidents is reduced.
As you can see telecommuting offers great advantages for everyone, but it also has a number of disadvantages that we need to considerate.
Disadvantages for the worker
- Physical problems. According to doctors and physical therapists, with telecommuting there is a risk of increasing sedentary lifestyle and physical problems, such as back pain.
- More work. Working from home, if the company does not have a good organization with clear objectives and well design workloads, and an effective leadership that trust in professionals, the employee may need work more hours than usual.
- Isolation. Without the direct contact with colleagues the employees can feel that they are isolated from the company.
Disadvantages for the company
- Worker’s disconnection. The fact of not have meeting with colleagues and having a common space could cause, in the worker, a certain loss of connection and engagement with his company.
- More difficult controlling the worker. With the telecommuting the control of the worker becomes more complex and more difficult to measure their results.
- Confidentality loss. This is one of the worst problems and challenges for companies today. The cyber attacks are one of the major risks and not having a secure virtual environment can put in risk thousands of confidential data.
The massive experience that the Covid crisis has entailed in relation to telecommuting has not yet been analyzed in depth, but the first available studies clearly point to a high degree of approval by knowledge workers value-added tasks that can be done perfectly from home with a more flexible and productive organization of your time.
Are there risks and drawbacks? Sure, but these drawbacks do not eliminate the many advantages of this more flexible, autonomous and efficient way of producing value.
At 3outof5 we are in favor of telecommuting, although we like to call it Smart Working, since it will require important changes in the way we organize tasks and deliver production in digitized companies.
Smart working is not only a temporary solution to overcome the crisis of Covid, it is a new organization of work, which supposes a new pact between company and professionals, which provides a virtuous triangle with happier people, more efficient companies and a planet more cleansed.