By Jami Gibson

Whittaker Associates has always placed great trust in their employees by providing them with a flexible working environment. The ability to work remotely has come in handy when employees have been ill as well as when road conditions during the winter make it too treacherous to drive to the office. Whether working remotely for specific reasons or “just because,” it seems that both the company and employee see the benefits.

Advantages for Employee

  • Save money on gas
  • Commute time can now be spent working, with family, or accomplishing personal tasks
  • Save money by eating lunch at home
  • Change of scenery/foster creativity
  • Ability to complete tasks when sickness prevents going to the office
  • Increased work-life balance/flexible hours
  • Ability to better control distractions
  • Promotes safety when road conditions make driving difficult

Advantages for Company

  • Reduces overhead (utilities, rent, space needed, etc)
  • Ability for ill employees to do their tasks without spreading germs in the office
  • Employee satisfaction, and therefore, retention
  • Expanded talent pool
  • Increased productivity when employees in different time zones extend the company’s working hours

These are just a few of the benefits recognized through working remotely. However, I know it is not a “one size fits all” approach. It depends on your company, your position, and your preferences. And it requires a great deal of confidence in your staff that they will perform their duties in an efficient manner.

To become more “virtual,” Whittaker Associates moved from server based files to Google Docs. Instead of using hard drives each day for backup, we’ve begun using Mozy for storage. Call forwarding, Skype, and instant messaging help us to stay connected throughout the day. GoToMeeting allows us to host web conferencing from any location. And in case all else fails, remote log-in gives us the ability to access our work computer and files just as if we were sitting at our desk. Does your company have a policy on working remotely? Does your company have solutions in place to make working remotely a possibility?