Teleworking, also known as telecommuting or teleworking, has revolutionised the way companies hire workers and achieve their objectives.
For those who are not familiar with the term, telework is an agreement that allows employees to work remotely or from the location they consider most appropriate (from home, office co-working in a library, etc.)
Although the concept is not new – the expressions telecommuting and telework were devised by Jack Nilles in 1973, it was not until the nineties that teleworking began to experience a major boom, mainly in the United States. The reasons that led to the adoption of teleworking can be summarised as:
1) The technological advances that have allowed the reduction in the price of computers and mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc., and reduced costs of information storage.
2) The ubiquity of the Internet and advances in communication that facilitate the collaboration of people through email, chat, VOIP, video conferencing, cloud services, etc.
3) A growing culture of freelance work or self-employment – working arrangements which can offer flexible work arrangements to teleworkers.
Additionally, more and more companies adopt telework to achieve their financial objectives and social responsibility, as this form of employment helps to:
1) Increase productivity and efficiency in operations
2) Access to high-level professionals located anywhere in the world
3) Save in infrastructure and energy costs
4) Helping the environment
5) Have a more motivated workforce, where employees have a more balanced work-personal life
6) Minimise absenteeism
7) Reduce staff turnover due to better job satisfaction rates
Although the benefits of teleworking are clear, many companies have not yet adopted this way of working. The three main reasons why this has happened are:
1) Employers want an efficient way to monitor the work of their employees. The perception of most traditional bosses is that this is only possible by direct observation, in which case the worker must be physically in the office.
2) The traditional companies still measure the contribution of its employees in terms of hours spent and not necessarily achieved objectives or results delivered. When you hire a telecommuter, these companies can lose visibility on the number of actual hours worked.
3) Employers fear losing control over confidential data shared with teleworkers.
The Future of Teleworking
All these challenges are very real, and that is why, although telework offers benefits to both companies and workers, the level of adoption of this way of working is not as high as it could or possibly should be.
Countries like the United States and here in the UK are more advanced in this regard. Teleworkers in the United States account for approximately 15% of the workforce, while in Spain and France, this drops to only 8%. Likewise, in the UK, it is expected during the next three years that teleworking will show large increases of between 33% -65%.
But not only companies are realising the benefits of remote working – governments and communities too: in a study conducted by Telework Exchange, it was estimated that if 53% of office workers worked remotely two days a week, this could save together about around £20 billion a year in petrol. And this is only one part of the story; you also have to consider increasing productivity by reducing the congestion of the streets and environmental benefits that would be achieved if more people teleworked.
Because of all these reasons (new technologies, economic benefits, environmental benefits, benefits for workers, etc.), it is believed that telecommuting will increase considerably in the next decade. The governments around Europe, for example, have plans to actively promote telework. However, in there is still need for multiple successful platforms that allow companies to jump into the world of telecommuting and give them the necessary visibility to efficiently manage projects and make payments remotely.