Whether you’re a manager interested in boosting productivity or a new parent who wants to find a way to work while spending time at home, telecommuting has become very popular in the workplace.

But for employees and employers alike, telecommuting can be challenging; especially for those accustomed to traditional office settings. As with most things, there are both pros and cons. Let’s start with the pluses of telecommuting:

Recruitment & Retention Tool

When it comes to telecommuting pros and cons, one overlooked advantage is telecommuting can be a great tool for attracting and keeping employees within your company. Attracting high quality staff is always a challenge, no matter the state of the labor market. By giving staff the option to work from their home, it becomes easier to attract those prospective employees searching for the right balance between work and home life.

Increased Productivity

Telecommuting arrangements decrease down time for employees. After all, taking a few steps from the kitchen into a home office is more productive than sitting on the freeway for an hour. Telecommuting also allows employers to access staff outside of traditional working hours, which is critical in some sectors, such as IT. In addition, work-from-home arrangements benefit employees, who may find the wider range of work hours adds flexibility to their schedule. For instance, a team member may be able to attend an aging parent’s morning doctor appointment and catch up on business later in the evening.

Financial Savings

Companies that allow employees to work from home can save on overhead costs such as lights, heat, office space, office furniture, even office supplies.

Some cons of telecommuting include–

Potential Decrease in Satisfaction Among Co-Workers

No matter how advanced technology becomes, it still doesn’t quite beat face-to-face interactions. In a traditional office setting, employees engage each other in a lunch room, chat in a hallway, or interact in any number of ways. And they don’t just talk shop either. Small talk when limited, can be a healthy part of the office culture.

Telecommuting limits these vital communications. In fact, one study by the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that in-office staff reported a decrease in satisfaction with work-at-home colleagues. Why the dissatisfaction? Perhaps because office-based employees perceive telecommuters have more freedom. For telecommuting employees, then, one of the disadvantages of working from home may be dealing with the misconceptions and grumblings of in-office colleagues.

Lost Opportunities for Team Building

Another disadvantage of working from home is that it can eliminate bonding time that is essential for building a cohesive team. Managers with a blended staff may need to schedule face-to-face time to nurture the team culture.

Lack of Clear Guidelines for Employees

Some companies that support telecommuting may not have clear guidelines in place. It’s important to have clearly written and communicated policies related to telecommuting. If employees aren’t told that they should be reachable during business hours, or that they may need to come into the office for scheduled meetings, it can create frustration and misunderstandings about the role of the employer and the employee in a telecommuting situation.

Is Telecommuting Right for Your Business?

The answer is, quite simply, do your homework to learn more about the pros and cons of telecommuting based the mission, vision, values and culture of your company, your recruitment and retention goals, and workplace productivity and customer service.

If you carefully consider telecommuting advantages and disadvantages and decide that it is the right choice, you may just find that work at home arrangements can be a very productive and profitable arrangement for both you and your employees.

Author's Bio: 

Dianne Shaddock is the Founder of Easy Small Business HR, Employee Hiring and Managing Tips. Through the Employee Hiring and Managing Tips podcast, blog, and weekly ‘quick tips’ e-newsletters, Dianne offers expert advice on how to make better hiring decisions, manage difficult employees, develop employee policies, motivate staff, and so much more. No stuffy, corporate HR policy lingo; but straight forward, easy to understand and implement advice for businesses just like yours. Stay ahead of the curve and go to Easy Small Business HR.com for more tips on how to hire and manage your staff effectively.