Survey: Telecommuting improves productivity, lowers costs

Employees who wish their employers would let them work from home now have more stats to include in their business cases for telecommuting, according to a new survey conducted by CompTIA.

The Web-based survey, which sought to explore the business benefits and challenges of telecommuting, found that organizations that give their employees the flexibility to work from home profit from productivity improvements, lower operational costs, and from being able to find and retain talented workers.

Of the 212 survey respondents, the majority of whom work in IT and at all levels, 78 percent said that their companies allow at least some telecommuting. More than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) ranked increased productivity as telecommuting's chief benefit. They say productivity improvements mainly stem from the ability to work during the time employees would otherwise be commuting to the office.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents checked off cost savings as another significant benefit of telecommuting. Their answers to how much money their companies have saved by allowing telecommuting varied widely, resulting in an average savings of $695,752. The median and mode amounts saved were $10,000. (Cost savings come from not having to pay auto expenses, such as mileage reimbursements, or for office-related materials.) CompTIA notes that a significant number of respondents didn't know how much their organizations have saved by letting employees work from home.

Other advantages of telecommuting that respondents cited include:

-- The ability to hire the most qualified staff, regardless of where they live (noted by 39 percent of respondents)

-- Higher employee retention rates (37 percent)

-- Decrease in employee stress (25 percent)

-- Ability to reduce auto emissions (17 percent)

When asked about the most significant challenges telecommuting presents to organizations, more than half of respondents (53 percent) picked securing corporate information systems. Notably, most of the challenges respondents ranked the highest were technical, not managerial.

Limiting the use of unauthorized and unsupported devices was the second most significant challenge, cited by 38 percent of respondents, followed by controlling personal use of corporate mobile assets (33 percent); supervising lower-level workers (32 percent); supporting different mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones and Treos, (30 percent); and integrating those devices with other enterprise systems (27 percent).

Respondents noted that their organizations have taken measures to address these challenges that telecommuting presents: They've upgraded network circuits, VPN equipment and VIP client software. They've also expanded security training and implemented new virtualization technologies.

For more information on telecommuting, see CIO.com's Telecommuting Resource Guide.

This story, "Survey: Telecommuting improves productivity, lowers costs" was originally published by CIO .

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