India Retail News
March 6, 2013
Telecommuting programs make for happier employers and employees, reducing absenteeism and stress, according to the second annual telecommuting survey issued by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc. Nearly all (93%) surveyed employees agree that telecommuting programs are mutually beneficial, and more than half (53%) of business decision makers state telecommuting leads to more productive employees.
By 2016, the number of regular telecommuters in the U.S. is expected to reach 4.9 million, which represents a 69% increase from the current level, according to a June 2011 report, "The State of Telework in the U.S." from TeleworkResearchNetwork.com. Employees and employers agree that telecommuting is mutually beneficial:
- 75% of business decision makers notice happier employees
- 37% report less absenteeism
- 48% of remote workers say they are less stressed, compared to a 25% drop in stress when working from home as reported in last year's survey
As telecommuting continues to rise, it is important for companies to think strategically about all aspects of their telecommuting programs to ensure cost savings and productivity, as well as work/life balance.
Staples offers solutions for employers to help coordinate telecommuting programs that support healthy and productive environments for at-home workers. Staples solutions range from ergonomic furniture selections and technology products and services to easy online ordering and at-home delivery and set-up options.
"Telecommuting can help achieve balance between workplace demands and life obligations, but being successful isn't as simple as just sending employees home with their laptops," said Tom Heisroth, senior vice president for Staples Advantage. "At Staples, we make it easy for businesses to set up telecommuting programs with everything employees need to be productive, including furniture, technology and office products."
Opportunity for improvement
While it's clear that telecommuting programs benefit all parties involved, the survey pointed out areas for improvement for companies seeking to maintain high satisfaction and productivity rates with a growing at-home workforce. Most important, the survey shows that businesses should evaluate their technology and furniture offerings to improve telecommuting programs.
When it comes to support for at-home workers, the survey highlights specific areas of concern:
- 59% of telecommuters do not use their company's data backup system, putting critical and sensitive information at risk.
- 3% of employees say dealing with IT issues is one of the most difficult aspects of working from home.
- 17% of business decision makers offer furniture, but only 50% of those respondents offer furniture installation services that can save workers time and improve productivity.
- 48% of telecommuters use furniture or technology that is not ergonomically adjusted for them, which can lead to discomfort, loss of productivity or injury.
Simple enhancements in these areas, such as implementing data backup and improving connectivity for IT, as well as providing cost-effective furniture solutions with easy procurement and set-up options, ensures consistent products and services for all employees. These improvements will transform the at-home work experience, making environments safe, healthy and productive.
Staples recommends these easy steps for productive telecommuting programs
- Connectivity—With IT connectivity issues being a main concern for both parties, telecommuting programs should ensure easy access to email, document sharing, instant messaging and video conferencing.
- Network access— Provide remote VPN capabilities so telecommuters can easily access the network.
- Data backup and security—Employees need to be educated about data backup and security best practices to avoid risky practices such as emailing sensitive information.
- Ergonomics—Incorporate ergonomic furniture options into telecommuting offerings-59 percent of survey respondents would accept company-purchased, ergonomic furniture, which would create a healthier work environment.
- Storage—Desk and drawer organizers, file cabinets and additional storage options help telecommuters minimize clutter and maximize space, making home office environments more productive.
- Sustainability—Environmentally preferable furniture options not only help support individual employee and company green initiatives, but also help promote healthier work and living spaces.
By providing quality technology and furniture options for telecommuters, businesses will benefit from more productive, healthy and happy employees - regardless of where they choose to work.
About the survey
Staples conducted an online survey of 150 business decision makers and 150 telecommuters at organizations of all sizes across the U.S. The survey, conducted in November 2012, asked a series of questions about telecommuting programs, supplies and services provided, reimbursement and attitudes/behavior.
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