Virtual Workers Reduce Your Labor Expenses. Reward Them Well.


by Jessica Miller-Merrell, Blogging4Jobs

Do Work-From-Home Employees Deserve a Raise? 

Having the option to work from home provides many employees flexibility, empowers them personally and professionally and often increases engagement levels. Successful work-from-home professionals or employees with flexible work schedules must learn to manage the change of lifestyle. They often work off hours, and squeeze more work time into a typical day than at-the-office workmates. Studies show employees would make sacrifices such as taking a cut in pay to gain telecommuting or flexibility.    

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 month.

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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