The many benefits of telecommuting, or working from home, are more extensive than previously thought, a study by Cisco has found. The networking and telecommunications technology firm surveyed 2,000 of their employees and concluded that they generate an annual saving of $277 million in productivity by allowing their staff to telecommute. The report found that the benefits of working from home arrangements were many and varied. Some of these are detailed below.

Improved employee satisfaction

The report found that the opportunity to telecommute was significant to employee retention, with 91 per cent of those surveyed ranking it as “very important” or “somewhat important” to their overall job satisfaction.

A smaller organisation that has also experienced this benefit is Washington-based Kitsap Credit Union. The firm made the option of telecommuting available to some of their staff. One staff member was able to retain her job and continue it remotely after relocating interstate.

“In today’s economy, this could be a good value-added benefit,” says Kellie Le Texier, senior vice president of human resources at Kitsap. “The business world is not 8 to 5 anymore.”

Cisco also found that 67 per cent of those surveyed said that the quality of their work improved when working from home.

Reduced overheads

While reduced overheads were not directly measured in Cisco’s study, they are an important factor for firms considering telecommuting as an option for their employees. If this is taken up by a few staff members, their organisation may be able to save on rent costs as a smaller officer can be used.

Other costs which could be reduced include utilities such as electricity, maintenance and costs associated with computers and furniture.

Employees themselves can also save money as they will pay less for petrol, vehicle running costs, road tolls and parking.

Work-life balance

The elusive issue of balancing work with family and other commitments is an important one, especially for women. Of the respondents to Cisco’s survey, 80 per cent said that their quality of life improved after they were able to work from home.

While employees may not be able to directly undertake any family duties while working, the time saved due to not having to travel can be spent with their family. Their schedule can also be worked around such tasks as picking children up from school and so on.

Improved environmental impact

Telecommuting reduces land use requirements for highway expansion. It also reduces carbon emissions caused by slow-moving or stationary vehicles during the peak hour rush. Employees will also suffer less stress associated with traffic congestion.

It has been estimated that in the U.S. alone, commuting to and from work consumes approximately 167 billion litres of petrol annually. Telecommuting can go a long way to reducing carbon emissions and creating a greener planet.

What can your organisation do?
The flexible and professional staff at iHR Australia can assist your business in developing policies to introduce telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements in the most effective manner possible.

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