Telecommuters happier, healthier working from home

More willing to work overtime, more loyal to employer: Survey
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/25/2011

To keep employees happy, they should be sent home, according to a survey of more than 140 telecommuters in the United States from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. Telecommuters said they feel and work better when working from home and 86 per cent said they are more productive at their home office.

When asked to draw comparisons, respondents said their stress levels have dropped 25 per cent on average since working from home and 73 per cent said they eat healthier when working from home.

Without the trek to the office, 76 per cent of telecommuters are also more willing to put in extra time on work and more loyal to their company, found Staples. More than 80 per cent said they now maintain a better work-life balance.

When it comes to employer support and assistance, most telecommuters said their companies don’t provide furniture (87 per cent), office equipment (60 per cent) or supplies (57 per cent).

The top item on the wish list for a home office is a more comfortable chair, as 44 per cent of respondents gave theirs a “C” grade or lower, found the survey. When constructing their home office, only one per cent of respondents received support with ergonomic set-up.

“It’s important to make the work-from-home experience a safe, productive and positive one for employees, with quality furniture and a layout that’s conducive to maximum efficiency,” said John Michael, vice-president and general manager at Business Interiors by Staples, the furniture and interior design division of Staples Advantage.

Technology needs

In addition to Internet connectivity and access to company networks, key considerations for telecommuters include:

Communication tools: Telecommuters said they rely on email (96 per cent), instant messaging (68 per cent), videoconferencing (44 per cent) and unified communications technologies (25 per cent) to stay connected.
Security: A proactive security strategy can help telecommuters prevent data loss, breaches and viruses, which can be spread to company networks. More than two-thirds of telecommuters said they didn’t receive IT security training in preparation for home office work. Fortunately, 95 per cent said they install operating system updates right away and 84 per cent don’t store personal data on their machines.
Data backup: Nearly one-third of telecommuters said they never back up their data — leaving themselves and their companies vulnerable to data loss.

“Data can be the lifeblood of an organization so it’s important to provide telecommuters with IT training and security best practices,” said Ed Ludwigson, vice-president and general manager for Staples Technology Solutions, the technology products and services division of Staples Advantage. “Because advances in technology continue to help dissolve geographical barriers, companies should also provide their telecommuters with tools that make it easy and efficient to collaborate and stay connected.”

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