Why telework is gaining ground at small businesses

Posted by David Aparicio

Sep 15, 2014 10:19:00 AM

Why telework is gaining ground at small businesses

Telework is becoming more popular these days, even for small businesses that have traditionally embraced the brick-and-mortar model. For a number of reasons, many startup leaders are shifting their operations to become more mobile-friendly, giving employees the ability to work from remote locations. It's a major change for the small business sector but there are many advantages to this new approach. From lower overhead costs to increased connectivity, organizations of all sizes are realizing that investing in mobile business solutions pays off in the end. As a result, the telework landscape will likely grow in the coming years with small businesses leading the charge.

1. Technology is now affordable 
The pace at which technology advances is incredible. It seems as if every day there is a new product or service being launched that promises to change the way we work and live. In the past, new technology was often synonymous with high price tags and hefty installation fees. Today, however, technology is affordable, even for startups. 

VoIP technology, for example, is becoming a more commonly used tool for small businesses. Telecom Tech News recently cited a report from Software Advice that found the majority of small business telephony systems buyers are investing in VoIP platforms. One of the major reasons for this spike in virtual phone services is probably the low cost of these solutions when compared to traditional land lines. 

Because VoIP is powered by the Internet, users aren't hamstrung by the calling and data rates associated with legacy phone platforms. Long distance calls can be made quickly for no additional cost in most cases, which allows businesses to easily connect with remote workers. Even teleworkers are using mobile devices to make VoIP calls - they can access the network via Wi-Fi, avoiding common fees that are typical for land lines. VoIP systems are also compatible with other unified communications technologies, making it easy for remote employees to access a wide range of business tools from their homes at a low rate.

2. Productivity and cost savings 
With companies always on the lookout to cut costs, it's no surprise that so many small businesses have turned to telework. When employees are able to work outside of the office, companies can save on a number of common expenses related to traditional workplaces. A smaller in-house staff means less physical space is required, reducing rent and lease investments. Also, businesses can eliminate spending on office supplies, furniture and other in-office fixtures that can add up rather quickly for startups. 

However, perhaps the biggest cost-effective advantage to telework is the fact that it keeps employees connected from remote locations, even when complications arise. For example, earlier this year Nextgov reported that Global Workplace Analytics and Telework Research found federal agencies were able to save $32 in productivity during a four-day snow storm in March due to remote access solutions being in place.

Downtime and the inability to make it into the office due to Mother Nature are often some of the most frustrating, money-draining barriers enterprises are forced to deal with each year. With telework technology, startups can mitigate the productivity losses sustained during snow storms, natural disasters or other occurrences outside of their control. 

3. Employees want flexibility 
According to data from Global Workplace Analytics, just 2.6 percent of the U.S. workforce list their homes as the main place they work. However, many more professionals operate remotely on occasion. 

The source also noted that about 64 million Americans telecommute sometimes, which accounts for half the nation's workforce. This highlights one of the biggest reasons why telework is gaining momentum: It offers more flexibility to employees. 

For professional parents, freelancers and a host of other employee segments, having the option to work from home is an attractive one. While they may not do so every day, the ability to remotely connect to the office is a major benefit for many job-seekers. Today's workforce is becoming more agile, and the advancement of small business mobile technology will continue to drive that trend in years to come. Cutting-edge unified communications tools make it possible for teleworkers to stay in close contact with the office, ensuring that performance levels and lines of communication remain robust. 

Startups that don't offer some sort of teleworking solution might actually be hurting their recruitment efforts. The source stated that the 2013 Federal Viewpoint Survey found 87 percent of federal employees want to have the option to work from home. This shows just how much value modern professional place on flexibility, which is something small business leaders need to be aware of if they want to attract the best talent available. 

Topics: SMB Solutions