Experts discuss advantages, ROI of teleworking

We are expected to be accessible anytime, anywhere, but still drive 45 minutes to go 15 miles to be in the office at a certain time, telecommuting expert Rick Albiero told GBC members at a Telework Baltimore event on December 1.

But many businesses are realizing bottom-line benefits to the alternative: teleworking, says Albiero. Society, business and technology have been changing how people control their work-life balance.

Albiero is the CEO and alternative work specialist for The Telecommuting Advantage Group in San Francisco, Calif. His company is working with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council on a local Web site. The site includes frequently asked questions, registration option, sample policies and agreements, self-assessment tools, and information about a teleworking clean air quality program. It also comments on telework myths compiled from various sources.

“We hope employers will consider this, use the TeleWork Baltimore site, and use the resources provided to them,” said Don Halligan, director of planning and capital programming, Maryland Department of Transportation. “Telework brings work to people, rather than people to work.”

Employee attitudes are changing where they seek work-life options and balance and they “volunteer” to be available off-hours, said Albiero. The social and economic development factor is that it gets cars off the road and pollution out of the air, which brings about a focus on sustainability.

As the promise of technology is finally realized, devices like PDAs and laptops provide complete mobility and Wi Fi, wireless provide “always on” Internet access, he said.

A few of the bottom line results include increased team productivity; job satisfaction and work/life balance. It also reduces costs, retains employees and if an organization can’t give raises it’s an alternative to keep them, said Albiero. Other benefits include decreased training, overhead, and facility costs. There is also a way to measure telework outcomes that matter to the executive level – outcomes for which data can be collected, he said.

Some organizations think that teleworking won’t work for them because of equity issues; they think everyone will want to do it; it’s too expensive; or because of data sensitivity, said Albiero. But a large amount of employees don’t want to mix their home/work life boundaries so they aren’t interested in teleworking, Albiero explains. He also adds that data security is not an issue with the right policies and infrastructure in place.

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