Benefits of Telework

Man at iPad

by Jane Anderson, director of the Midwest Institute for Telecommuting Education (MITE)

Many Minnesota nonprofits are discovering the benefits of allowing employees to do at least some of their workload at home instead of going into the office. With today’s technological advances, nonprofits have the opportunity to accommodate more flexibility for their valuable employees and reduce their carbon footprint. Telework (also known as telecommuting), in which employees work from home or a remote location some or all of the time, can be a good option for organizations of all sizes.

Telecommuting is proven to attract and retain valuable workers and boost employee morale. In a study of 10,000 workers, Kenexa Research found teleworkers were more engaged than their office counterparts, appreciated their supervisors more and saw management as being more competent and employee-centric.

There are additional benefits to telework. For example, on average, telework yields a 22 percent increase in employee productivity, a 20 percent decrease in employee turnover and a 60 percent decrease in employee absenteeism (WorldatWork). Telework also reduces the demand for office and parking space.

RESOURCE, a large human service agency, utilizes telework for its case managers who need uninterrupted time to write quality reports and meet tight deadlines. Working from home one day per week, case managers experience fewer work interruptions and distractions and are better able to meet their job responsibilities. Debbie Atterberry, president of RESOURCE, reports that telecommuting has assisted employees to perform at their highest skill level and balance their work and life.

Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest also realizes the benefits of telework. Gina Blayney, executive director, finds that telecommuting helps employees to be more active in their primary communities rather than sitting at a desk in the office. The organization uses collaborative tools such as GoToMeeting, Webinars, conference calls and Web site access to easily and effectively communicate and maintain work flow.

While your organization might not have a formal telework program like these organizations, it probably has at least some employees who are working from home. To be successful, however, telework must be used for the right positions and the right people at the right time. It is important to develop a thoughtful strategy to maximize the benefits and minimize the potential challenges of telework.

An excellent opportunity now exists for employers to learn practical, proven ways to implement telework. eWorkPlace is sponsored by the state and offers free and subsidized training and resources through expert telework and technology consultants, including e-training for managers and potential teleworkers. eWorkPlace helps nonprofit agencies empower their employee talent and excel at three competencies: cultivating relationships, focusing on outcomes and developing employees.

Telework is increasingly recognized as an essential component of a modern workplace. Done correctly, it increases efficiency, decreases absenteeism, improves morale and can significantly decrease overhead costs.