Telecommuting: Today’s Perk, Tomorrow’s Necessity?
Why Telecommuting Policies Should be Core to Hiring and Retention Strategies
With gas prices having risen over the past four years to unprecedented highs (when taking into account inflation), commuters will be losing more and more of their pay packet to fuel costs. We don’t have to tell workers this; they will be able to see for themselves the surge in monthly spend on petrol, making roles that offer telecommuting financially appealing to them. It will mean more hard cash in their pocket at the end of the month, full-stop.
Also, with Exxon Mobil predicting a 30% rise in global demand for fuel over the next 30 years, most people fear that fuel prices will keep rising sharply for many years to come, meaning that commuters are set to lose an increasing amount of their pay to transportation cost. Once again, employers with a long term commitment to telecommuting will be extremely attractive to both candidates and employees.
As well as this, telecommuting is green and reducing environmental pollution and, if properly implemented and positioned within the employer branding strategy, can be a clear sign of social responsibility. This is a quality that is very attractive to potential candidates according to a Kelly Workforces Survey of 100,000 people which found that 86% of workers were more likely to accept a pay cut or demotion to work in a company that is ethically and social responsible.
There is also compelling research from Dice reported in Fortune magazine that over a third of IT workers would accept a 10% pay cut in exchange for working from home full time. It’s not just IT, it’s finance professionals too as a Robert Half survey of 1,400 CFOs found that 33% of them thought that telecommuting/flexible working options were the most effective factor for attracting top candidates.
Telecommuting will soon be the new normal, if it isn’t already
Research from Forrester shows that there are around 34 million telecommuters (25% of working population), which will rise to around 63 million by 2016, making it near to the norm. Organizations that don’t have an effective telecommuting workforce strategy by then may struggle to recruit top talent in an environment, when most of their competitors are offering telecommuting options.
For telecommuting to support your employer brand, it must be effective
Both now and increasingly so in the future, organizations need to offer more than just a telecommuting option, but they will need to have a built a reputation both within and outside the organization for providing an effective telecommuting experience which promotes collaboration, productivity and employee engagement — that is if they want it to support their employer brand and have it be an effective attraction and retention tool.
Yes, employers are not going to be judged on just whether they offer teleworking, but they will be judged on how effective their telecommuting environment actually is.
If not now, but very soon, telecommuting will be a key weapon in the war for talent, and in fact top talent may soon begin to overlook options where a mature and effective telecommuting policy is not in place. If you want to attract top talent, an effective telecommuting policy could soon be a necessity.
And what does a effective telecommuting policy – that will attract and retain staff – look like? I think it consists of 5 key factors:
- Expertly branded and marketed to support the employee brand
- Training of leaders to manage and motivate remote teams.
- Smart deployment of collaborative technologies to support and enhance communication and interaction and team work.
- Support system for remote workers to provide emotional support, socialization, and manage sense of company identity.
- Cloud based operational and performance management processes so that staff can potentially work from anywhere – and are not disadvantaged from being outside the office.