Telework has garnered a lot of attention lately for many reasons. Some companies are using telework as a form of accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and others are using it as an incentive to attract or keep good employees during tough economic times when raises are scarce. While these are all great reasons to embrace telework, one of the most important reasons for having a telework plan in place may be to help your company stay open in the face of disaster.
Telework and Disaster Preparedness
Telework involves allowing employees to work from home instead of coming into the office. As technology has become more prevalent and affordable and given people new ways to connect, it has become a more realistic option for many employers. In fact, in 2010, President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010which provided a framework that companies could use to leverage technology to recruit talented individuals to work in the federal government.
The Act was also designed to allow government agencies to continue to operate in the face of various disasters and problems. Of course, this can include serious disasters such as security threats. But it can also include more run-of-the-mill problems such as inclement weather.
Your Business and Telework
Government agencies aren’t the only ones that want to continue operating in the face of minor disasters and major weather problems. Many companies also want to stay open, especially if your business does business on a national or multi-national level and may have customers and clients that expect you to be there even when your town is shut down because of a blizzard or tornado or flood.
By having a plan in place that allows employees to work from home- either some of the time on a regular basis or just in an emergency situation- you can help make sure your business is a little more disaster-proof as you head into this next winter season.
Technology has dramatically changed the way business is done. One of these ways is in the area of telecommuting. People are now able to work remotely almost anywhere in the course of their job duties. This expanded with the development of laptop computers and WiFi connection. It has only been enhanced by advances with smartphones and tablet computers.
Employees enjoy the advantages of telecommuting through the convenience it provides. Workers with families can plan their schedules with more flexibility. Employees who would normally face a long commute into work now do not need to worry. Despite this there have been some managers who do not see the benefit of it.
What’s To Worry About ?
According to the Society For Human Resources, in October 2011, 900 HR professionals, IT managers and others who implement or manage telework at federal agencies came together for the Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting in Washington, D.C. Management was the top reason why telecommuting is not more widely used followed by lack of trust, concerns over data security, fear of employee disengagement and lack of face-to-face interactions. Training of management and defined policies were seen as methods of improving outlook of telework.
Younger generations have grown up surrounded by technology, the internet, and cel phones. They understand the changes and advancements made and is an integral part of their lives. In one 2009 study, telecommuting is particularly appealing to Generation Y workers who account for 42% of the telecommuting population. Companies that embrace this as a policy are attractive to younger workers. It helps balance work and family obligations and gives flexibility.
As technology in work becomes more prevalent security of information becomes more vital. Some industries may find certain sectors using telework more than others. For example, medical care staff providing direct care may not use it as much as hospital administrative staff. However medical records by federal law are to become digitized making protection of patient information a priority. Security programs and processes are continually being revised to make telecommuting feasible.
According to a study published by Portfolio.com, 71% of small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) are “mobile businesses” adopting wireless technology to allow their employees to work effectively outside of the office.
The findings point to the business habits of the rising number of SMB mobile professionals – those who work outside of the office more than 30% of the time.
“It’s no surprise that advancements in technology are moving at a fast clip. What is a surprise is how much more successful those business owners are who can be rightly called mobile professionals,” says J. Jennings Moss, Portfolio.com’s editor.
“This tech-savvy group is spending more time doing business outside of a traditional office by staying connected via smartphones or tablets, and are already looking ahead to the next step – cloud computing.”
- 64% of small business owners who are considered mobile professionals spend 8+ hours connected to their business via computer, smart phone, or iPad.
- 88% use social networks, including 60% who leverage social media platforms to market their businesses on a regular basis.
Obviously with more business managers traveling for sales, and generally working while on the go, there is a valued perk of work mobility for future talent in the workforce. More business professionals are looking for careers that allow them to work effectively out of the office.
Read the Mobile Enterprise news article
Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A telecommuting policy is an attractive benefit for incoming employees. Do you know which of your employees would be most successful in the virtual work program? Through time and experience, you’ll find that telecommuting is not for everyone.
Identifying the types of individuals and skills for successful telecommuting can be difficult. Some employees may be a natural fit. Virtual work requires a different skill set than working in an office, even if the job responsibilities are the same.
- Interdependency: While you want virtual workers to be independent and self-motivated, it is also crucial that they collaborate and share common goals and responsibilities with others.
- Indicators for Potential Success: For instance, experience would be an indicator that someone is a candidate for telecommuting. Has he/she worked remotely in past jobs before?
- Personality Testing: There are also personality assessment tests you can conduct to determine if an employee is well suited to virtual work. These will test important qualities like flexibility, multitasking, follow-through, and self-motivation.
Read the TLNT Magazine article
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net