By Joan Voight
Technology fosters new ways for small businesses to conduct business. Thanks to advances in telecommunications and the ability to employ remote workers, a small business owner can operate his or her company from almost anywhere in the world.
Remote workers can link businesses with skilled individuals around the world and cut costs. Therefore, innovative companies searching for ways to run their business and save money should consider using remote workers.
Why More Businesses Don't Employ Remote Workers
While these are all valid arguments, the evolution of telecommunication has rendered many of these fears obsolete.
Telecommuting Can Increase Productivity
Entrepreneurs know the vision of their business better than anyone. This is why, when employing workers, many business owners prefer to directly supervise employees. While this is true, consider the productivity advantages of remote workers.
First and foremost, time spent commuting to work - driving, taking a train, or walking - is immediately eliminated. Employees that routinely travel a half hour each way to work every day would save on average at least five hours a week, equating to roughly 250 hours a year. This doesn't even factor in the amount of time workers spend getting ready to go to work or putting their lunch in the office refrigerator, removing their coat, and other actions involving getting settled at the office. This is time that is normally spent in the commuting process that can now be redirected to business productivity.
Also, every office worker knows how much time is spent, or wasted, shooting the breeze in the coffee room or by the water cooler during lunch or break time. Of course, this is not to say workers do not have distractions in their remote work area outside of the office.
Decreased efficiency as it relates to not having workers in the same office is addressed by advances in technology. Communicating via video conference has never been easier, and workers can be reached in a multitude of ways. Remote workers can video chat and forward emails to their cell phones, and integrated software programs allow managers to track what remote workers are doing off site.
Remote workers tend to have better morale as well. This allows specific types of employees, such as recent mothers, to work and take care of their children instead of using day care. Telecommuters save on gas and train tickets, and they avoid the frustration of traffic and other travel delays. Also, working from home when it is extremely cold out, or it is raining, is a great perk that makes employees very happy.
Employer Advantages of Using Remote Workers
The biggest advantage of using remote workers is cost savings. An employer who uses an entire staff of remote workers could cut back on big expenses like rent and utilities. If a small business has some office workers begin telecommuting, but must still retain some office space, the now unused office space could be rented out to generate some cash flow.
Additionally, remote workers may not require as much compensation, i.e. number of paid vacation days off, if they are afforded the benefits of telecommuting.
Remote workers can give employers access to information about markets that they might not have if all staff worked in one location. Employees who work in different cities can provide market intelligence, such as small business competitors operating in the region where they live, that wouldn't be available if all staff worked in the same area.
Whenever possible, small businesses should make use of the advantages that remote workers afford.