Any discussion about ‘telework’ typically results in an array of facial expressions among those it is discussed with. This can vary from excitement, where the eyes are wide open and the discussion is being eagerly listened to, to concern, where frown lines appear and eyes are generally rolled towards the back of the head before the discussion is dismissed with a bunch of reasons why it won’t work!!
Having been a teleworker for over 7 years now, my eyes open wide and excitedly at the mere mention of the word. My personal experiences, along with those of others who have experienced good results from telework, have me celebrating the concept and talking it up to anyone who will listen. But what if you are new to it, what does telework really mean?
If you check the dictionary, it will state something like this:
Telework: The practice of working from home, making use of the Internet, email and the telephone.
For me, telework is about working anywhere! It’s not necessarily working at home and certainly not about working traditional business hours.
Many studies, many organisations and countless articles continually provide us with information supporting telework. To help remind us why we’re all so passionate about it, I’ve listed some of the key findings which are generally discussed in almost any telework article you Google….
IT’S GREAT FOR BUSINESS
It increases productivity
Increases staff loyalty and retention
Reduces sick leave
IT’S GREAT FOR EMPLOYEES
Improved quality of life
Less time commuting
Less eating ‘out’ for lunch
Improve life balance
IT’S GREAT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Less cars on the road
Need we say more?
I have found that most ‘negative’ comments about telework are ultimately of concern relating to trust.
I’m a big believer that telework can be tragic, however I’m also of the belief that it’s no more tragic than having a team member in the office who is continually under-performing.
Unfortunately the more traditional way of thinking has people celebrating ‘presenteeism’, where we measure how ‘hard’ someone is working by how much we see them. Quite frankly, it’s absolutely irrelevant how ‘much time’ someone works whether it’s in the office or remotely and I’d challenge any organisation to really look deeply into this.
The most productive team members aren’t roaming the corridors, or flicking paperwork from one side to another, nor are they reading the same report or email over and over again. I’ve witnessed parents who have had to work ‘school hours’ in order to balance their career with their young families and I can assure you that these women were getting more work done in 5 hours than some of ‘presenteeism staff’ were doing in 8+ hours.
It really got me thinking. Does it matter how many hours we work? Isn’t productivity more important than watching the clock? Results based work is on the rise and the reality is, a LOT of work these days can be done anywhere and at anytime.
If telework is embraced, it’s a serious win-win for everyone. Staff loyalty increases, output and productivity rises, carbon emissions and road congestion decreases and staff turnover lessens.
More personally, families become more connected with one another, parents spend more time with their children and perhaps in the future, we’ll see a decrease in the burden of stress and anxiety disorders related to the worries of balance our ever increasing busy lives.
If you haven’t thought seriously about the benefits of telework, the time to start is now!
NB: This article was first published on the Australian Government’s Department Of Communications Telework website.
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