Is Telecommuting The Key To An Improved Workforce?

Is Telecommuting The Key To An  Improved Workforce?

Recently “Emily”, an HR Manager at one of C2’s government contracting clients implemented an anonymous “suggestion box” to obtain employees’ ideas on how to enhance the company’s benefit offerings.  She discovered that a majority of respondents wanted the option to telecommute at least part of the time.  But before going to her management team to present the idea, Emily came to C2 for guidance on some of the benefits and pitfalls of telecommuting.

A.     What Does it Mean to Telecommute?

 Telecommuting, working remotely, work-at-home, or being a “virtual” employee are all terms that companies use somewhat interchangeably across a broad spectrum of industries. As a general matter, all of these terms mean the act of working at a location other than the company’s office or worksite, often at home, rather than commuting everyday to and from an office.  A growing number of companies are allowing employees in certain positions to telecommute on a full-time basis.  However, on average, companies allow employees to telecommute one to three days per week and report to the office the remaining days.  Obviously, the nature of a company’s business plays a tremendous role in the feasibility and amount of telecommuting that makes sense.  For example, non-exempt employees at a manufacturing company will be far less able to telecommute than salaried, exempt office employees of a software company.

B.     What are the Potential Benefits to Telecommuting?

Companies across the board have experienced mixed results with telecommuting practices.  But there are some potential benefits that continue to peak employers’ curiosity about its viability at their organization, including the following:

  1. Employee productivity increases with flexibility in work hours and location;
  2. Flexible work options reduce absenteeism;
  3. Telecommuting is eco-friendly and cost-effective, because less office space is needed; and
  4. Flexible work options increase employee retention and is a positive recruiting tool.

Improved Productivity. Employees have reported that they are more effective at home than when they work out of the office.  The primary reason they cite is that the seemingly endless interruptions at the office create a work pattern that is subject to repeated restarts, which increases the time it takes to complete tasks.   The additional aspect of socializing with other employees is also frequently cited as having a negative effect on productivity.

Reduced Absenteeism.  Telecommuters may be more productive because they have increased flexibility to schedule their actual working time. They have some flexibility to work during their most effective periods or navigate around other demands in their lives that would normally require them to be out of the office.  For example, some individuals are morning people, others are more productive at night.  A telecommuter may be able to better balance their work with personal demands in their lives (e.g., children, school).  And while telecommuting should not be a substitute for child care, it can afford employees greater flexibility in scheduling this type of care.

Telecommuting is also useful in minimizing the impacts of other occurrences, such as extremely inclement weather, highway construction, or special events (e.g., the Olympics).  In the Snow Belt, “snow days” at local schools force many parents to stay at home, rather than go to work, in order to supervise children usually at school.  And even employees without children can find it difficult to even get to the office.  These interruptions play havoc with deadlines and deliverables.  Organizations with telecommuting programs in place often find that employee productivity remains high during these times.

Overhead Savings.  Organizations with well-planned telecommuting programs have found they are able to reduce the size of their office and furnishing requirements for employees.  In addition to utilizing less square feet (and paying less rent), some companies have adopted office sharing arrangements whereby two or more employees share an office because they work outside the office part of the time.  This does require the company to schedule the use of office space, but the cost savings on office space often makes up for this additional administrative task. Some companies have chosen to create revolving work stations.  Employees are not assigned to a work station but may choose their work space upon arrival at the office.  As such employees are not “married” to their desks, office, or cubicle. Instead they “check-in” on days when they commute to work.   Some organizations have reported up to 30% reductions in overhead by allowing some personnel to telecommute.

Improved Retention and Recruiting.  Employees who have tried telecommuting tend to prefer it and tend to seek out similar opportunities at other companies when looking for new employment.  Employers are also realizing that telecommuting is a way to keep talented employees from “jumping ship” or who, for various personal reasons, find that they can no longer commute to the office.  A common example is when the spouse of a valuable employee is forced to relocate.  Companies are learning they can often retain the employee through the use of telecommuting.

Telecommuting is also a mechanism for recruiting persons with disabilities.  These may be individuals who are excluded from the work force solely on the basis of their inability to commute to and from an office.  (Companies who have employees with disabilities as telecommuters should take care to provide for some social interaction among all their employees.)

C.     There are Some Drawbacks to Telecommuting

Not every company sings the praises of telecommuting.  Contrary to employees’ assertions, some companies feel productivity actually decreases among telecommuting employees.  Also, allowing employees to work remotely (particularly on a large scale) can create unintended problems and raise concerns that companies need to adequately resolve before deciding to make telecommuting an option for their employees.  Some of the potential drawbacks include the following:

  1. Employee productivity actually decreases;
  2. Working remotely allows for abuse of vacation and sick leave;
  3. Supplying office equipment, and worker’s compensation insurance; and
  4. Telecommuting is too difficult to implement for non-exempt, hourly employees.

Decreased Productivity.  Some companies disagree that telecommuting creates increased productivity among employees.  One common problem that many companies point to is that employees who work remotely tend to get distracted by outside demands on their time that they would otherwise put off until after work or their day off if they were coming into an office every day.  Everything from kids, to pets, to doctors’ appointments, to appliance repairmen are thought to detract from employees’ productivity by creating distractions that are not present at an office.

Abuse of Paid Leave.  When employees work from home, they are able to incorporate into their day some things that they would have otherwise had to take vacation or sick time to cover.  Doctor’s visits, school meetings, home repair visits, car service appointments, etc. are just some of the tasks that telecommuting employees can do during their day without taking paid leave.  An employee who works from the company’s office would ordinarily have to take vacation or sick leave to accomplish these things during the business day.  While companies can try to make telecommuting employees use their PTO for such things, monitoring their whereabouts when they are not in the office is not always easy.

Creating a Viable Remote Office.   Companies who allow employees to work from home are still obligated to provide them a safe environment from which to perform their duties.  Furthermore, employers should check with their insurance carrier as to whether their workers’ compensation coverage will apply to their employees’ home office.  Companies often utilize a formal agreement to iron out employee safety and insurance issues – sometimes even requiring the employee to attest in the agreement that her home work space contains certain items (i.e., ergonomically sufficient desk and chair, sufficient lighting, a room or space designated solely as an office, etc.).  Another oft cited concern by companies is that supplying office equipment to telecommuting employees can be a hassle and often results in loss of the items when an employee departs the company.  In other words, it is far more likely a company will recoup all the company property from an employee’s office that is located at the company’s worksite as opposed to being located in the employee’s home.

Monitoring Non-Exempt Employees’ Time.  By all accounts, telecommuting seems to work better for exempt employees than non-exempt employees.  Exempt employees do not necessarily need to punch a “time clock” and their pay is not driven by the precise number of hours they work during any given day or week.  By contrast, non-exempt employees only get paid for hours they actually work – and therein lies the rub.  Many companies find it difficult to monitor the hours “actually worked” by non-exempt employees who telecommute.  Certainly, many companies today have electronic time keeping systems where employees can “clock in” and “clock out” using a computer or even a cellphone.  But some companies believe that allowing non-exempt employees the option to telecommute invites “time card fraud,” because there is no consistent means to monitor whether a non-exempt employee is working when they are not in the office.

D.     The End Result for Employers

There are undoubtedly pros and cons to allowing employees to telecommute.  Whether it makes sense for any particular organization to implement a telecommuting program for some or all of its employees requires an individualized assessment of many factors, including the type of work the company performs, the makeup of its workforce, the practices of its competitors in the market, and whether the company thinks it can reap any overhead savings or other tangible benefit (as opposed to simply providing the employees an additional benefit program). Those companies that decide to utilize some form of telecommuting arrangement for its employees are well advised to create appropriate handbook policies, agreements, and other written parameters so that both the company and the employees are all on the same page.

C2 provides strategic HR outsourcing to clients who want to develop optimal workforce strategies and solutions to allow them to be more competitive and profitable. C2 blog posts are intended for educational and informational purposes only.

 

Like this article?

Like this article?

Sign up to receive more Weekly HR news & Employment Laws updates 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Client & Employee Login

Use following link to access C2Connection’s login screen.

 

client-login-screen

 

 

C2-Connection-login
hr-blog-icon

C2 HR Blog

Latest HR News, Events & Employment Laws updates


  • Addressing Absenteeism in Your Workforce
    by admin on 06/22/2018 at 6:32 pm

    A client recently contacted us and wanted to discuss employee absenteeism. The client, a government contractor, had experienced a recent surge in employee absenteeism (for various reasons such as PTO, sick leave, call off’s, LWOP, etc.). Although the client did not want to broadly discourage […]

  • Is Telecommuting The Key To An Improved Workforce?
    by admin on 04/12/2018 at 7:14 pm

    Recently “Emily”, an HR Manager at one of C2’s government contracting clients implemented an anonymous “suggestion box” to obtain employees’ ideas on how to enhance the company’s benefit offerings.  She discovered that a majority of respondents wanted […]

  • Workplace Violence – Is Your Company Prepared?
    by admin on 02/13/2018 at 9:53 pm

    Workplace violence is a major concern for both employers and employees. Not only does it adversely affect the victims of violence, but it can undermine employee morale, cause good employees to leave, adversely impact employee performance, and even negatively affect employers’ bottom line. […]

  • Reimbursements for Qualified Moving Expenses
    by admin on 02/08/2018 at 2:45 pm

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed the exclusion of qualified moving expense reimbursements from gross income and wages effective January 1, 2018. Qualified moving expenses are defined as any amount received directly or indirectly from an employer as payment (or reimbursement of) expenses which […]

  • DOL Intern & Student Employee Eligibility Test
    by admin on 02/06/2018 at 5:45 pm

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has rejected the previous six-part test for determining whether interns and students are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Going forward, the DOL will use the “primary beneficiary” test to determine whether interns are employees […]

  • Employers and Hurricanes: Managing Through a Natural Disaster
    by admin on 12/21/2017 at 4:08 pm

    Hurricanes can be devastating for everyone involved; Particularly those unlucky enough to be located in the “eye of the storm.”  On an individual level, securing your home, loved ones, and personal effects as best you can (and then, of course, leaving the area during the storm) may […]

Visit Blog Page

SUBSCRIBE

Be the first one to receive Employement Laws updates & HR News  From C2

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Gertie

Kevin McCoy

General Counsel

 

Mr. McCoy serves as C2’s General Counsel, managing the overall legal needs of the company. Mr. McCoy also works closely with the company’s HR teams who provide strategic advice to clients on a myriad of human resources related matters. Mr. McCoy came to C2 as an experienced labor and employment attorney, having served as a Partner in two different D.C. area law firms that specialize exclusively in management-side labor and employment law. Mr. McCoy likes to problem solve, and enjoys helping his clients work through the legal challenges of operating a large multi-jurisdictional HR outsourcing company.

After graduating with a degree in Philosophy from Emory & Henry College in Southern Virginia, Mr. McCoy earned his law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law. Mr. McCoy began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to judges on two different intermediate courts of appeal before settling in the D.C. region.


Gertie

Gertie Fields

Director of Payroll & Administration

 

Ms. Fields manages C2’s Payroll Services team, charged with ensuring that all client payroll processing is timely and accurate. She is responsible for all aspects of client payroll accounting and financial reporting functions, including preparation of payroll audits. She manages the processing of multi-state payrolls, new hire reporting, and transmission of ACH files, and ensures that payrolls are accurate and fully compliant.

More importantly, Ms. Fields and her team pride themselves on proactively identifying potential payroll issues for clients before they become a problem. She has been with C2 since 1998, and has directed all aspects of Payroll Services. She holds a bachelors’ degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Acquisition and Contract Management.


Sharon

Sharon Liotta

Chief Financial Officer

 

Ms. Liotta brought her 20-years of accounting management experience to C2 when she joined the company in 2000. As CFO, she directs and oversees all financial activities of the corporation including preparation of financial reports as well as summaries and forecasts for future business growth and general economic outlook. She is responsible for business and financial strategy and planning, monitoring, and management and reporting, including management and development of policies, systems, processes and personnel involved. Ms. Liotta directs the accounting staff to ensure that exceptional internal auditing and financial controls are maintained.

Ms. Liotta earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from George Mason University with undergraduate studies at Clemson University.


HR-CEO

Jackie Asencio

President & CEO 

 

Ms. Asencio is President and CEO of C2 Essentials, Inc., one of the region’s leading human capital management service providers. With more than 30 years’ experience, Ms. Asencio has been a major influence in helping small to mid-size government contractors grow and compete in the federal marketplace. C2 Essentials has successfully provided clients with a competitive edge through cost-effective HR outsourcing. Ms. Asencio recognizes that federal contractors are increasingly forced to reduce their costs due to pricing pressure. C2 Essentials becomes a strategic partner to its clients to help reduce their overhead and fringe dollars, while providing a robust HR expertise that enables clients to achieve HR compliance in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. HR outsourcing solutions are focused on the client’s mission, both CONUS and OCONUS.

As a seasoned trainer and coach, Ms. Asencio works closely with business owners ensuring their human capital management strategies are aligned to their business goals. Ms. Asencio has extensive experience in full life cycle recruiting, talent management, succession planning, career development, reward and recognition strategies, performance management, regulatory compliance, compensation, benefits, risk management, and outplacement services. Prior to founding C2 Essentials, Ms. Asencio provided human capital management support to Department of Defense and various civilian agencies.

Ms. Asencio believes in giving back to the community, her philanthropic activities have included supporting Operation Homefront, Wounded Warriors, Boulder Crest Retreat, The National Veterans Institute for Procurement, and local families in need. Ms. Asencio has received the Sister Eymard Gallagher Award for Corporate Social Responsibility and was a finalist for The Dr. J.P. London Award for Promoting Ethical Behavior for the Human Resources Leadership Awards (HRLA) of Greater Washington.


hr-news-blog

C2 Social Media Wall

Share, Retweet, & Favorites

hr-jobs
C2-Contact

Discover what C2
can do for your company.

For more information, or to set up an appointment with a professional C2 business advisor, please fill out the form below.
Alternatively, call us at (888)-772-2896 .

Please prove that you are human:

dandinew

Our Mailing Address Is:

C2 Essentials, Inc.

3975 Virginia Mallory Drive, Suite 100

Chantilly, VA 20151

Phone: (888)-772-2896 (F) 703.433.9014