Despite all the apparent perks,
there are increased costs associated with such flexibility that are often paid
out of pocket by the virtual worker. Does
the cost outweigh the benefit when it comes to telecommuting and work from home
options for your virtual workforce? And
if so, who should be paying those extra labor expenses?
Teleworking Effects: Shifting Labor Expenses
In the aftermath of the 2010
Federal Telework Bill, the US Federal Government saw substantial reduction
in energy costs realized after offering employees work from home options one
day a week. While employees saved
commuting time, spent less at the pump and in automotive wear and tear, they experienced
an increase in personal expenses such as space required to set up a home
office, office supplies and furniture, and home energy and electricity.
Teleworking and the Tale of the Shrinking Wallet
The largest expense for
telecommuters is establishing an office located within the home. Even with this added expense, a work from
home employee still provides substantial cost savings, lowering the company square
footage per employee from 225 in 2010 to less than 100 by 2017. Little information is available in the form
of telework cost studies, but a few quick calls revealed the cost to furnish my
home office ranges from $20-50 per square foot. On the high end, a 200-square-foot office at $50 per square foot costs
the employee $10,000 to furnish for the employee. Add in additional fees like Internet, a
dedicated phone line and a percentage of utility costs, and your virtual
employee may be experiences monthly cost increases between $100-300 or more per
To Give a Raise or To Not Give a Raise: That is the Question
The answer is Yes. The telecommuter
deserves a raise. We know he or she is
burning not just the midnight oil, but oil at every hour. The telecommuter doesn’t walk out the door at
4:55 to get a jump-start on traffic; he or she works despite the time until the
job is done.
He or she is driven by the
results. Increases in productivity mean
less time tied to work, fueling his or her personal motivation to get things done
efficiently. And, as outlined previously,
the employer reaps benefits from this flexible worker. They are no longer paying the power to fuel
the laptop, keep the lights on or maintain the office temperature at an
optimal 68 degrees. Their employee is
producing more and better work and helping meet the bottom line. The employer can and should give a raise
because they are getting more out of less.
I See the Future: You Working in Pajama Pants
Although the movement towards
telework is just beginning, I foresee this trend to continue to develop. Employees who can self-manage in a flexible
work environment or virtual team setting will grow in demand. Competition for remote, high-performing workers
will become so fierce that employers will provide incentives for them with a new age
of perks such as home office stipends and gym memberships and enticements. The savvy
teleworker could negotiate his or her next career move with a tricked out home
office and the latest new technology toy, increasing their efficiency and fun
in the work from home environment.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs.
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