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What Telecommuting Can Do for Your Business

September 29, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
Studies show teleworkers are happier than others.

By Logan G. Harbaugh, PCWorld - telework_happy-5220477.jpgTelecommuting, which allows people to work collaboratively from different locations, offers a wealth of opportunities for small businesses, including cost savings and the ability to add specialized temporary workers quickly. Telepresence tools, such as video conferencing, make telecommuting possible.

The U.S. government endorsed teleworking long before many companies in the private sector gave it a second thought. A growing number of businesses now thrive on remote workers, providing services via the Internet that range from writing to remote computer and network management. Here's why you should consider offering a telecommuting option to members of your team, too.

1. Your workers will be more productive. When they can work from home, they may face fewer distractions than at the office--and of course, they'll have a reduced commute time. Numerous academic studies and corporate surveys have shown that many teleworkers are happier and more productive than workers at headquarters. Some workers may need supervision, but you can accomplish this by setting production goals rather than by monitoring hours per day worked.

2. You'll be able to reach team members, regardless of their physical location. Telecommuting generally requires an Internet connection and appropriate software. Tools include remote-control applications, collaboration software, and videoconferencing software. It may be easier to reach team members via the Internet than by walking to their office. Remote control apps such as LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, and Splashtop Remote Desktop let users log in from home and control their work PCs. Collaboration software such as Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 allow users in different locations to share documents, files, presentations, and other data simultaneously. And videoconferencing software--such as Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Citrix GoToMeeting, or the free, multiperson chat enabled by Google+ Hangouts--facilitates group meetings.

3. You'll conserve office space and save money. Remote workers furnish not only their own desk and PC, but also electricity, snacks, water, bathroom facilities, telecommunications bandwidth, phone service, and more. By reducing the number of workers at your office, you'll reduce office expenses. Even if you reimburse some costs, such as Internet connectivity or phone use, you'll still save on the reduced square footage of office space you need and on utilities to support it.

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