Saturday, November 01, 2014

Telecommuting as an HR policy: Can we choose to ignore it?

Telecommuting also known as Work From Home (WFH) has become a reality these days. So how do you define it? It is defined as a regular, routine work arrangement that allows the staff member to fulfill his primary job responsibility at a location other than his Vanderbilt work site, such as at home and if market indicators are anything to go by it is growing by leaps and bounds.

A lot has been already talked about how beneficial it is for an employee helping him raise his productivity, increase employee satisfaction and providing flexibility in scheduling but what about the other side? Can organizations too benefit from this? If yes, how and how much? And can it be a sustainable model? Let’s have a look at it!

According to me organizations can save and utilize this policy much more to benefit them. So what are the benefits?

Higher employee satisfaction – this definitively translates into better productivity at work place and more job satisfaction. In the long run this translates to low absenteeism and low attrition rate hence achieving higher customer retention. Research has shown that retaining an employee incurs 60% less cost as compared to acquiring a new customer.

Company growth – A company in the long run will be able to grow due to employee commitment and loyalty and hence shall be able to sail through tough times with comparative ease.
Reduced costs for company – If the policy is followed diligently and with due care , companies can save on multiple cost objects such as office furniture, electricity, transportation of employees, office space etc. Infrastructure costs can sharply be reduced by strategic adoption of WFH. According to data a typical business would save $11,000 per person per year. By reducing office space, Ctrip saved what would amount to $2,000 per employee per annum.

So where does the future lie?

No doubt few questions have been raised on sustainability of Telecommuting both from organization and employee perspective but the crux is “Is Telecommuting avoidable?

With the ever increasing population, can we sustain it with our infrastructure growth? – With the current rate of growing population it is highly imperative to understand the infrastructure costs for the company. More population means more jobs means more resources and which ultimately translates to more organizational costs (like office space, land, electricity etc.) But we all know the grim reality that resources are constrained. However, by adopting a telecommuting policy this can be controlled. For e.g. Cisco systems Bangalore has a flexible WFH policy and infrastructure is accordingly designed. For e.g. A team with 10 members is allocated 8 cubes only. This is done by keeping in mind the average number of WFHs done in a week. This hence encourages employees for doing WFH.

Technological Innovations – We all realize that the industry as a whole (not just IT) is moving towards cloud, virtualization and SaaS(Software as a Service). When data is becoming mobile because of these technological innovations where and why is the need of the worker to be traditional?

Hence I think going ahead telecommuting will become a reality. The idea is to come up with a telecommuting plan that an organization can leverage on and hence reduce their costs.

~ Supriti Bhan PGDM2014 Information Management

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