Monday, January 01, 2001

Daily Grind


Staff likes working from home

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        Companies considering whether to allow workers to labor from the dungeon of a basement office or a dusty back bedroom should ponder no more.

        A study from International Telework Association & Council indicates that substantial savings can result by letting some employes stay home to earn their daily bread, rather than braving snow and traffic to get to the office.

        The savings comefrom lower costs related to turnover and because people who stay home have reduced absenteeism. The group is a non-profit trade association based in Washington D.C. that promotes the benefits of telework.

        An estimated 19.6 million people, or 10 percent of all U.S. adults, work from home at least one day a month during regular business hours, the telework association says.

        The could be as high as 23 million people as about 20 percent more people worked at home in 2000 than in 1999. The council estimates that each year for the forseeable future, another 2.8 million people will leave an office in a suburban corporate campus or downtown high-rise for a desk at home.

        While tele-commuting reduces absenteeism and improves job retention, for the first time, human resourceprofessionals were able to put a dollar sign on the savings.
       

More likely to stay
               For every $44,000 paid in annual salary, about $10,000 is saved by the company when a worker chases a client list with cold calls from his house, the group determined.

        The savings is mostly because workers are not as likely to leave one company for a better offer at another. Lower turnover translates into a $7,900 savings because no new replacement employee has to be trained.

        Another bucket of “found” money comes because the at-home worker does not need a company roof over his head, a company desk at his elbow and a company telephone at his ear.

        The worker generally pays for the overhead of out-fitting an office - it's called a mortgage.

        One of the fears many companies have about at-home workers seems to have a basis in fact, if not folklore: while the boss, er, cat, is away, the mice will tend to play.

        It is human nature not to break a sweat if the boss isn't within eyeshot and earshot to hear the grunts and groans from all the heavy lifting that is going on.
       

Keeping others happy
               There is another apparent downside: employees stuck in the office can get a bad case of me too, that is, they may resent the co-worker who gets to chase down a non-paying client or find a new customer with a phone cradled to his shoulder while flipping some french toast.

        Worker loyalty gets even fuzzier with teleworking - which differs from telecommuting in that teleworkers might be on the job at an airport lounge, in a client's waiting room or on the road. Also, teleworkers often complain that it is tough to figure out where and when the workday ends and domestic duties begin.

        Theassociation found that teleworkers are slightly more likely to live in urban areas, rather than rural communities and small towns.

        The survey also found teleworking is most common in the manufacturing, business services, construction, banking, insurance, transport and communications industries. However, just about every industrial sector in the U.S. has teleworkers.

        E-mail: jeckberg@enquirer.com

       



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