Telecommuting is increasingly attractive to employees, with 71 percent of telecommuters saying it’s an important benefit when considering a new job, according to a survey from office supply store Staples.
Employees also cited reduced stress as a major telecommuting benefit (69 percent), up significantly from 48 percent in 2013. The study also revealed an overwhelming majority of employees (88 percent) believe telecommuting is a win-win for both them and their company.
It appears that employers also agree with this sentiment, with 65 percent of employers who allow their workers to telecommute reporting happier employees, and one-third of employers reported less absenteeism in the workforce when telecommuting is allowed.
"When a few companies recently banned telecommuting, it sparked a debate on the benefits of such programs," Paul Mullen, vice president of technology solutions for Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, said in a statement. "Our survey clearly shows the benefits. Not only does telecommuting lead to a happier workforce, it’s also a critical benefit to have from a recruiting standpoint. Employers who are flexible and support their staff with the tools they need to telecommute have a definite recruiting advantage."
Achieving a better work-life balance ranked as the top reason employees like telecommuting, cited by nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents, up from No. 2 last year.
Transportation savings (69 percent) and green benefits (47 percent) are also cited as top reasons, and 10 percent of respondents said they would take a salary reduction to keep the telecommuting benefit.
However, the survey also revealed even with these benefits and the growing popularity of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies (50 percent of organizations surveyed offer BYOD), companies are still doing a poor job of educating employees around proper security measures and equipping them with appropriate furniture.
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of employees name a poor virtual private network (VPN) connection as their biggest tech challenge when working from home, and 58 percent of employers report their telecommuters have connectivity problems several times per month or more.
In order to resolve some of these challenges, employers should think about implementing security measures like encrypting device-side data by adding another layer of protection, which is important in the event an attacker manages to bypass a lock screen or finds a backdoor.
In addition, telecommuting programs should ensure easy access to email, document sharing, instant messaging and video conferencing. Providing remote VPN capabilities to telecommuters is also important for easy network access, the report noted.