Once a perk, the ability to work remotely is slowly becoming an expectation. Since 2005, the remote workforce has grown by 159 percent, and 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce say they would like to telework.1
An increasing number of professionals are seeking opportunities to work from home, and companies are beginning to accommodate such flexible arrangements. To remain competitive, family businesses should consider employee mobility.
Benefits to Workers from Teleworking
Working remotely can benefit both employees and employers in several ways.
For the employee, having a flexible schedule, being able to work from any location (including at home), spending more time with family, and swapping commute time for more sleep and exercise, have ranked as the biggest benefits of remote work. Additionally, the autonomy in remote workers' schedules may result in a productivity boost and fewer time off requests.
For the employer, having remote workers can help the business not only save money, but make more money as well; less on-site presence can reduce overhead costs and save the business money.
Although there are many advantages to working remotely, it may also present unique challenges to the family business. A family business interested in offering teleworking should consider its feasibility and the impact on the organization’s culture.
Some considerations include:
- Security - Systems need to protect data and communications from hacking in remote locations.
- Supervision - Unreliable communications, non-motivated employees, or time zone differences can create heightened challenges to monitoring employee productivity and performance.
- Employees - Issues may arise from treating some employees differently, where some are permitted to work remotely while others are required to work on-site. Remote workers may also struggle with "unplugging" after work, loneliness, lack of collaboration, and distractions.
- Compliance - Businesses need to maintain compliance with federal, state, and local wage and hour, leave, health and safety, anti-discrimination and harassment laws, particularly with remote employees. Failure to do so could lead to costly litigation.
Carefully managing the risks and utilizing a structured approach can help a business experience the advantages of remote working. By incorporating best practices, such as consistently applying a remote worker policy, establishing clear performance standards and security measures, and clarifying retention rules for documents and property, a family business can successfully execute this benefit.