Flextime/Telecommuting

TELECOMMUTING CONSIDERATIONS

Increases Productivity.
One of the major misconceptions about telecommuting is that once employees are out of sight, they will not be as productive. A Stanford study showed that call center employees actually increased their productivity by 13% when allowed to work from home. Another study from University of Texas, Austin showed that telecommuters worked 5-7 hours more than their in-office counterparts.

Reduces Turnover.
As employees commutes become longer, due to increased traffic, people are more apt to call in sick or look for another position close to home or one that allows for some telecommuting. Decreases in productivity can cost a company thousands of dollars—and that number can skyrocket when the employee actually does resign. Employees who are given the option to telecommute are reportedly much happier (73%) with their employers and their ability to telecommute than traditional office workers (64%). Telecommuting is said to increase employee satisfaction and they are much more likely to stay in their positions. Thus decreasing turnover and retraining costs.

Improves Morale.
Offering telecommuting either full-time or part-time helps to increase work-life balance and employee’s happiness on the job. In turn, that happiness turns into gratitude, causing employees to become more invested in the companies they work for, work harder and feel more valued. A Pennsylvania State University study shows that telecommuters are generally less stressed and happier than those who work in an office.

It’s Eco-Friendly.
The vast majority of employees drive to work every day. The pollution associated with commuting takes a huge toll on the environment. A recent study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association found that telecommuting saves enough energy to power one million homes in the United States for an entire year! In that way, both companies—and their workers—can greatly reduce their carbon footprint when employees work from home.

It’s Cost-Effective.
It is thought that only employees benefit financially from working from home. Employees will avoid added expenses that come with working in an office, such as commuting costs, buying office attire and daily lunches.

But, employers save as well. It’s estimated that for each employee who telecommutes, a company saves about $10,000 annually with an employee commuting half-time.

With its numerous benefits, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work remotely. 64% of companies allow “some” telecommuting. Not only does telecommuting greatly benefit the environment, but it strengthens a company financially and creates a more invested, cohesive—and most importantly, happy—workforce.

Telecommuting is not for every company or every employee.
Some major companies have tested telecommuting and found that although there is a savings to both employer and employee, in an environment where collaboration is necessary to project success, telecommuting reduces the amount of employee collaboration. Some feel that face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a collaborative culture.

Studies show that people who work at home are more productive but less innovative. Professor of management at San Francisco State University, John Sullivan said, “If you want innovation, then you need interaction, if you want productivity, then you want people working from home.” Sullivan runs a human resource advisory firm.

FLEXTIME OPTIONS

• Perhaps one of the oldest flex time options is job sharing. In this case, two workers usually each work half time, comprising one full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. For this type of plan, tasks, roles and responsibilities need to be closely coordinated to ensure optimal productivity.

• A second plan allows for employees to work different hours, which usually involves them coming in to work either earlier or later than most of their counterparts. For instance, instead of working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., flextime employees might work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Another option allows employees to alternate between a four-day week and then a five-day week, thus permitting a traditional two-day weekend followed by an extended three-day weekend. Or, if your business allows it, employees can work ten days straight (including weekends) and then enjoy four consecutive days off. Or they can work four, ten-hour days every week and then have three consecutive days off. The possibilities here are only limited by what works for your business.

• In companies with peak periods, such as accounting firms or tourist businesses, employees can work many more than forty hours each week during the busy season(s), and then enjoy shorter weeks in the less-busy season(s). Closely related to this seasonal plan is “comp time” which refers to employees working more hours than usual each week but not being paid overtime for this overage. Instead, employees can leave early some days or take a day off to balance out their hours.

In many companies, some employees’ job responsibilities are primarily project oriented–as soon as one job’s completed, the employee can simply go on to the next task. With this type of job, an option here is for the employee to be paid on a project basis by deciding how long the task should take and what the remuneration will be for that responsibility. And the employee can take time off between projects if they finish sooner than planned. In this instance, the employee functions much like an external consultant who’s hired on a project basis.

So, before you implement a flex-time option in your company;
• Include employees in planning stage
• Identify certain positions/Individuals that are not conducive to flexible work arrangements
• Have formal policies so there are Inconsistencies and Inequities
• Be sure all management is on board
• Monitor, assess and update flexible work arrangements
• Know the law for classification of flex-time employees and potential injuries on the job

Success Tips

Employees love flexible work arrangements, and employers benefit from higher morale, lower Absenteeism, and being able to attract better quality workers. But flex plans don’t come without issues.

Here’s some of the most common issues and a way to avoid them;
If you’re at concerned that your employees might take advantage of your good nature and not be working when they should be, these tips will help ensure the greatest degree of success.
Your goals for any employee working flextime need to be clear.
The goals must be both specific and action-oriented so they can be measured at the end of the work period. And both of you need to agree on the actual scope of work. And it’s critical, especially when it comes to telecommuting, that the mode of transmitting the end result be unambiguous. For example, do you want work details or the end product to be communicated by phone, internet or in person? Are rough drafts and a phone call sufficient or do you need a polished report?

An employee’s exact role in the company must be clearly defined.
Each person–manager and employee–must know the expectations and responsibilities of self and others. Each person must also know exactly who does what and with whom and who is responsible to whom. This is especially true when you have employees working outside the office and communicating only via phone or e-mail. When role clarity isn’t ensured, confusion, blame, dissension, antagonism and a lack of productivity often result.

Determine the frequency and mode of communication you require before your employees begin working their flextime schedules.
Employers vary on the amount of control and contact they want or demand from their employees. Some bosses want a written summary of a week’s efforts first thing Monday morning; others are satisfied with a phone call. Still others believe that a face-to-face meeting is essential. Figure out what you need to feel comfortable with the work your employees are doing and set some guidelines.

Establish some regular working hours for your flex-time and telecommuting employees.

It seems the less often an employee is present in the office, the more that people need to get in touch with that person. The telecommuter needs to outline a usual time that he or she will be available by phone or e-mail and also set a regular time for coming in to the office. Many employers with flextime and telecommuting employees have discovered the concept of “core hours.” This is the time all employees must be physically present at the business location for a set amount of time on a specific day. Knowing, for example, that all employees will be available for a meeting every Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. can go a long way to decreasing the anxiety of flextime.

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