Yahoo's Marissa Meyer appears to be in the minority when it comes to whether employers think telecommuting is a good idea. In fact, businesses looking for a boost in productivity should consider letting some employees work from home, new research shows.
In a study by Staples Advantage, more than half of employers said telecommuting leads to more productive employees, while 93 percent said work-from-home programs benefit both the employee and company.
Specifically, 75 percent of employers said telecommuting has led to happier employees, with 37 percent saying it has reduced employee absenteeism. In addition, nearly half of the employees surveyed said they are less stressed when working from home.
"Telecommuting can help achieve balance between workplace demands and life obligations, but being successful isn't as simple as just sending employees home with their laptops," said Tom Heisroth, senior vice president for Staples Advantage.
The study found a number of potential areas of improvement for companies seeking to maintain high satisfaction and productivity rates by tapping into the growing at-home workforce. Security issues are at the top of the companies' concerns, with nearly 60 percent of telecommuters putting critical and sensitive information at risk by not using their company’s data backup system. In addition, one-third of the employees surveyed rate IT issues as the most difficult aspect about working from home.
Staples offers businesses several tips for improving the at-home work experience, including:
- Connectivity: Telecommuting programs should ensure easy access to email, document sharing, instant messaging and video conferencing.
- Network Access: Provide remote VPN (virtual private network) capabilities so telecommuters can easily access the company's in-house network.
- Data Backup and Security: Educate employees about data backup and security best-practices to avoid risky activities, such as the emailing of sensitive information.
The study was based on surveys of 150 business decision-makers and 150 telecommuters at organizations of all sizes across the United States.