Telecommuting Management Essay, Research Paper
In the ever-expanding information age the notion of an office has changed dramatically. Increases in technology such as computers, modems, and the Internet have meant that managers must be able to effectively deal with problems that may arise from using these new advancements. No area is this more necessary than in the field of telecommuting management. Telecommuting moves the work to the worker and allows periodic work out of the central office by employees of a company and with the new international trend of business, brings the all worlds markets in reach. Many positions such as data processors, sales people, software programmers, and even senior executives can use telecommuting. The management of these telecommuters is essential to the overall effectiveness of the program. Not only do the managers have to maintain effective communication, but they must also select telecommuters, select sites, purchase new equipment, and measure results. Using these methods internationally can also save a company a lot of money by not having to send knowledge workers overseas.
Decentralization and Benefits
There are many reasons why a company would want to decentralize and start a telecommuting program. The main reason is that 57% or more of the U.S. workforce is comprised of information or knowledge workers. These workers jobs are derived from the collection, manipulation, and dissemination of information, using computers. These workers do not need to be in attendance at a central office because they are able to do the same work at home. Not commuting to a central workplace, but instead to this virtual workplace, opens up opportunities for business owners and employees.
Many potential benefits are increased organizational flexibility, better management, reduced turnover rates, and increased employee morale. Telecommuting programs are very profitable and tend to create these profits in a very short period. This
includes the purchase of the equipment and training expenses incurred at the beginning of the program. Businesses save money by not having to pay for sick days and the advent of telecommuting means less office space; less maintenance costs and lowers insurance rates, which the company can use on expansion.
International implications are abundant due to the fact that the trend towards the globalization of business works to spread the telecommuting capabilities to its final state creating international telecommuters, which has already begun. The management of a corporation with global telecommuters would be difficult to manage and would have to take into account all the traits of the domestic telecommuters, plus the global dilemmas, which may arise. Eventually a firm will be able; for example, to hire Chinese programmers for a software program and pay them lower wages then an American programmer, which may cause political tension.
Productivity can also be increased due to the fact that employees feel more at ease in their environment and are allowed to work when they feel the most productive. Freedom from a boss constantly monitoring their work gives them a sense of pride and corporate responsibility that they may not have had in the first place. Many books speculate that people are able to perform better when they are at home because they don?t have to worry about daycare, or their children home alone, or have to take the day off of work to go to the doctor?s office.
Environmental concerns are an important reason why a company would decentralize. Less traffic on the highways and less pollutants in the air are benefits of telecommuting. With all of the time that people save by not commuting to and from work, they can spend more time with their families and reduce baby-sitting expenses. Automobile maintenance and gas consumption are reduced, which save the family even more money.
Types of Telecommuting
There are three main types of telecommuting, Home-Based, Satellite Telework Centers, and Local Telework Centers. Often times there is some combination of these types, depending on whatever is most effective. Home-Based telecommuting is when employees work solely out of their home and report their work to a central office via modem or some other method of data transmission. Most of the telecommuters are Home-Based and it is estimated that more than seven million workers telecommute out of their homes. Home-Based telecommuting allows the company to have access to employees who may not live in the geographical area or have responsibilities at home.
Satellite Telework Centers are a building or part of a building where employees report to work periodically, bringing with them the work that they have done at home. The sole purpose of the center is that it is closer for the employees to report to, than the central office. There may be several satellite locations to fit the employees needs, and most of the benefits of telecommuting still apply. Local Satellite Centers are different because they are centers that have employees from many companies meeting in the same building. They are usually very small in nature and may even serve a small town or even a neighborhood.
Selecting a Site
In order to have an effective program the site of the telecommuting location is very important. For many employees the home is a possible site location, but for many it is not. Managers must inspect the work area to make sure that it is a suitable environment. Some of the criteria for a possible site are that: it must be free from distractions, it is safe, has access to electrical and telephone outlets, and a suitable place in which to do the business at hand. Proper office furniture and the technology needed for telecommuting are also a must. Some of the electronical equipment that a telecommuter would need at home are, a computer with fax/modem, copier, scanner, printer, pager, and a telephone. Every company has different guidelines governing the purchase of equipment. Most companies prefer an allowance for equipment on a yearly basis per employee, which is made at the discretion of the manager.
Another important issue that the firm must face when implementing a telecommuting program is keeping up with the technology. Managers must deal with the issue of trying to give their employees the latest in technology while not overpaying for these new innovations. Since there are new advances in computers and networks all the time, managers must follow the market closely and know when to buy new equipment and when to wait. This knowledge will allow the company to save even more money and make a larger profit.
LAN?s or local area networks and the World Wide Web are ways that businesses are helping the communication and dissemination of information within their company. These networks can link an entire company together allowing telecommuters to input data into the mainframe, while also being able to extract information. Networks also help telecommuters keep in touch with their managers and vice versa. Setting up these networks can be expensive at first, but the increase in productivity and the overall effectiveness of the company will rise dramatically and should offset all expenses.
More advanced telecommuting systems may use video-conferencing in their program in order to take some of the impersonality out of the work. Video-conferencing uses a modem and a specially designed camera on the computer to transmit live video of the two or more parties who are collaborating. This can be used within a company many ways from employee to employee meetings, manager to employee meetings, and even with new and perspective clients.
Software programs also aid in the development of telecommuting. Groupware is software that allows a collective group of individuals worldwide to send electronic mail (e-mail). These e-mails allow employees to send messages to each other instantaneously on projects. Programs such as word processing, database, spreadsheet, and Internet software cut down the time it takes to express and collaborate on ideas between employees. Telecommuters allow a company to respond faster to the changes in the market and better deal with situations as they arise.
One main concern of all of this technology is network security. Many criminals, called hackers, break into many of the mainframe computers of businesses every year. These invasions occur from foreign and domestic threats and may lead to the dissemination of sensitive corporate information. New product ideas can be copied and financial information can be used by the competition to gain an upper hand. Managers have choices in keeping their network as secure as possible. Some of these options are to not have the telecommuters directly connected to mainframe, use of passwords, retinal and fingerprint scans.
There are many problems that may arise in the telecommuting program. Employees can lose touch with the company and not do their work with the same quality as before. Systems failures may render the telecommuting system helpless for days or even weeks. Workers in the central office may perceive their workload increasing and blame the telecommuters for their lack of effort. These conflicts tend to reduce productivity and morale within a company, so the manager must take every precaution to ensure that they do not happen.
Managers can have many problems when implementing and developing a telecommuting system. They can feel backlash from those in the central office over resentment for the telecommuters. Managers must also deal with deadlines that are to be met and must discipline those who do not perform up to the standards. If these problems are not addressed and fixed they can possibly ruin the morale of the corporation or may even lead to the demise of the telecommuting program.
Even though telecommuting is growing at a rapid pace and should continue to grow into the future, it will never be the only form of work. A manager of today and tomorrow must know how to implement telecommuting into their business while also sustaining the needs of all areas of the company both domestically and internationally. If done properly the program can reap benefits such as increased productivity and larger profit margins. Telecommuting can succeed in any business, but it must have the technology, able workers, and an effective managerial staff to allow it to prosper. These managers have to be able to stay informed of new technologies and be able to relate to the telecommuters and the problems that they are facing. With the ever expanding global economy telecommuters will be used by the corporation as a way of saving money and time. Benefiting the stockholders, owners and consumers.
In the ever-expanding information age the notion of an office has changed dramatically. Increases in technology such as computers, modems, and the Internet have meant that managers must be able to effectively deal with problems that may arise from using these new advancements. No area is this more necessary than in the field of telecommuting management. Telecomm