Several executives in various companies across the world are still trying to solve the puzzle of how best to maintain high profits without laying-off workers in an economy that has received a significant blow from the recession. Most of these companies have not yet fully recovered from the aftershocks of the recession. Most of the companies and other organizations resorted to laying-off employees as the only option for them to keep floating and avoid plunging into debt and becoming bankrupt. Most of these companies have therefore lost very skilled workers who are very competitive and creative and instead replaced them with unreasoning, uncreative automated machines which cannot match the employee’s competitiveness. In the real sense, adopting technology without competitive manpower may do more harm than good to the company.
Need For Telecommuting
Problems in any organization are usually solved by a manpower that is highly skilled as well as specialized. The last option for an organization should be reducing the workforce as this is what gives any organization a competitive advantage over other companies and organizations. There is therefore a need to adopt other methods of cutting a company’s cost and that is where telecommuting comes in handy. This is where people are able to carry out the same tasks that are assigned to them at the comfort of their homes. This reduces the need for extra office space and hence greatly reduces the company’s costs as very little physical space in the form of offices is needed. Only those employees whose main activities involve so much of the office work really need offices while the rest work from their homes (Victoria, 2009).
The main purpose for telecommuting is to reduce costs, maintain a competitive workforce and provide a working environment that is satisfactory yet with minimal investment. Some of the office equipment provided for those telecommuting includes personal computers with software that is of the required standard, printers, desks, chairs, drawer filling cabinets. Some of the software is meant to facilitate the telecommuter in accessing the companies Local Area Network and the mainframe facilities. Good communication support is vital for any for telecommuting to be a success. Telephone facilities have to be placed in the employees’ homesteads both the voice as well as data lines. Other requirements could include fax machines and modems for easy data transfer. Installation charges as well monthly telephone bills must be paid on time by the company so as to ensure that inbound callers get whatever services they need. Telecommuting increases the company’s net income. In the event that the client does not get an immediate respond, the call is forwarded to the company’s customer care department so as to get an alternative help (Microsoft Student, 2007).
The managers or teams are in a position to schedule private conferences at a convenient time and enable all the telecommuting workers as well as those who work at the office premises to take part. This is made possible through teleconferencing. The company or organization may simply need a conference room or a group meeting room, a center for secretarial and administrative support as well as a mail room. Through telecommuting, the company may opt to downsize the office support group and instead hire an external contractor (Li, 2007).
Most of the working support is altered in this kind of working environment. It is important for some basic training to be given to the telecommuters so as to ensure efficiency in the telecommuting program. For instance they may have to learn to put all their working schedules on their personal computers so as to make it easier for the secretary who uses the PROFS calendar to schedule the appropriate time for a teleconference or virtual meeting to occur. Reference manuals and online help systems may be of great help in this case (Jackson, 2003).
The implementation of the telecommuting program requires creative and visionary thinkers who can not only organize but also manage the changes that take place. Teleconferencing may be challenging to implement especially with the fact that most managers are used to being treated like bosses at the office environment. Other employees may simply be unwilling to adapt to the new working environment while others may face much interruption while working from home, for instance from the family members and in some cases the telecommuters could be staying in an area with poor security hence. The program may therefore meet with resistance especially in the early stages of its implementation.
Motivating the Telecommuting Change
Telecommuting is the best way of saving the very much needed jobs. In some cases it has been referred to as being recession-proof. Other advantages the telecommuting program include; reducing the problem of having to commute from home office on a daily basis, reducing traffic congestion and packing problems within the town, ensuring that customers are effectively served. The program is particularly advantageous to those parents who need extra time with their families and at the same time need to work. A good example could be breastfeeding mothers or even those who are expectant and need more time to relax. It allows for flexible time management.
Receiving feedback from telecommuters is the only way to determine the efficiency of the program and make the necessary adjustments where possible.
Most of the telecommuters have come to a realization that the program improves their job efficiency as well as their personality. They therefore perceive it as a positive readjustment. It also saves a lot of money that would otherwise be channeled towards paying for the office space. It is beneficial as the telecommuter has all that he/she needs at one point hence saving time. One does not have to drive a lot while getting to the office and back. It is very easy for one to work for an extra time without fear of being late or the fear of insecurity.
Telecommuting saves much time and money particularly for those who stay very far from their workplaces. One is not restricted to the tight office schedules as well as attire restriction where one must wear and look official in the office setting. One could be working while in his/her tracksuit or jeans yet no one will be there to question and the feedback may not necessarily be that serious. The meals could be cheaper or even free. There is no congestion and one may find help from family members a good example being the cleaning of the working desk.
There is less interaction with the workmates and the teamwork spirit is almost not there and it may be a little bit difficult to track projects. Peer interaction makes work easier as they able to consult and come up with a solution especially when the task is difficult or complicated. There is reduced moral support. Some may not like the idea of eating lunch alone. Communication about customers’ issues is not there and there is no social interaction as well as networking. Lack of social contact coupled with casual communication is a major problem and there is need for special regular luncheons so as to enhance interaction. There has to be one-on-one meetings scheduled on certain occasions where all workers meet and discuss their issues formally. Teleconferencing may not be as efficient as a face to face meeting. It may also be difficult to get something from a coworker or the office premises immediately though it may be urgently needed (Qvortrup, 1989).
Some people could be living in very small apartments and it may be difficult to divide such an apartment and dedicate some space for office work. Most people may miss the comfort that is availed at the office like air conditioning. There could be inadequate system configuration and this could mess up the work. There could be call interruptions as well. One may direct his/her work to the office printers for printing only to come later and discover that they had broken down. Obsolete equipment and applications that are not updated could render the work almost impossible.
Change to mobility
Success of telecommuting largely depends on the supporting technology. The equipment must be in good working conditions and the software updated. The program could also adopt mobility, whereby the employees could be provided with laptops so as to enable them work from anywhere at a time convenient to them. Besides laptops, cellular data communications and pagers could be used.
When an evaluation is thoroughly done it is found out that a lot of millions and even billions are saved when whenever the telecommuting system is adopted and the employee’s productivity is greatly increased. The productivity could increase by about 20% or more when telecommuting is used. The mobility concept if adopted by the company could lead to tremendous increase in the productivity (Ray, 1993).
Telecommuting could probably offer the solution to the problem of discrimination at the workplace. Many people are denied working opportunities on the basis of being disabled for instance. When telecommuting is employed however there is reduced discrimination on such a basis as the person does not need to appear at the workplace on a daily basis. Most scrutiny is directed towards the work done rather than an individual. The management is based on objectives rather than observation. Telecommuting is yet to be employed by most companies. Industry that utilizes telecommuting most is the call center. The industry has the largest number of home based employees (Garreau, 1991).
The internet has also played a significant role in making telecommuting a success. Broadband internet connections have become common in linking the home offices to the central office of the company or organization. Telecommuting is particularly preferred due to the fact that it reduces the potential terrorism targets. Terrorists will always go for congested places that have a lot of equipment and valuables as this is the most appropriate way for the impact of their actions to be felt. By adopting telecommuting, most of the organization’s services are decentralized while. People are widely dispersed and some of the equipment is at the employees’ home office. In case of a terrorist attack, the impact might not be as much. In fact, all the information cannot be lost in the event of such an attack as there is always backup information in the workers’ personal computers (Campbell, 1995).
Energy is saved and the green house gases greatly reduced. The talent pool is expanded and in the event of an infectious illness, a good number of the workforce is saved. Absenteeism is greatly reduced. The workers are able to work in regions with different time zones. Telecommuting hastens cultural adaptability. Given the fact that the program is very beneficial to the government as well as the environment, laws must be enacted to ensure that companies have a provision for telecommuting for the workers as this would go a long way in reducing government spending for instance in the repairing of roads and importing oil (Bogart, 1998).
Telework centers could be should be established close to where most workers stay to enable them work close to their places of residence rather than travelling all the way to their places of work. Telework centers are able to provide employees within the office setting yet in places that are far from their workplaces. This will in fact be the best option for those who find it difficult to work from home (Kim, 1999).
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