5 Telework Mistakes to Avoid (What is Teleworking?)

Telework (also known as telecommuting), allows employees to use software to work from home, coffee shops, restaurants, or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection.

Employees can converse with co-workers, collaborate on projects, or conduct meetings with clients without needing to come into the office. It is safe to say this change in how employees are allowed to get work done has shaken up the workforce as we know it.

As the new millennium unfolded, features like high-speed internet, smartphones, and online collaboration tools begin to flourish. Couple this with rising rents for business owners, increasing gas prices, globalization, and high traffic in urban areas, and we have the perfect mix for telework.



Part 1
The Current Climate of Teleworking

We know that teleworking is on the rise and is something many workers are now looking for, but what are the current statistics about this new way to work?

Global Workforce Analytics, a firm that produces data on trends involving flexible work arrangements, revealed data highlighting the current global state of remote work:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115 percent since 2005, nearly ten times faster than the rest of the workforce.
  • Almost four million employees work from home at least half of the time.
  • Forty percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options than they did five years ago, but still, only 7 percent make it available to most employees.
  • If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time (roughly the national average for those who do so regularly) the national savings would total over $700 Billion a year including:

    — A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year

    — The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year
    — The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.

More stats:

  • According to, telecommuters save 260 hours annually by ditching the daily commute.
  • Intuit found that 73 percent of telecommuters are satisfied with their place of work, compared to only 64 percent of office workers. They also found that 59 percent felt managers were concerned with their well-being, while only 49 percent of office workers felt the same way.
  • According to TLNT, remote workers are 50 percent less likely to quit their jobs.
  • Baseline, a magazine that focuses on innovative tech solutions, found that 82 percent of teleworkers said they had experienced lower stress levels since they started working remotely.

Part 2
Advantages of Teleworking

While many employers are still on the fence about the benefits and functionality of allowing workers to telecommute, there are many upsides for the employee and employer.

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  1. Reducing Turnover

    If employers want to decrease the number of people leaving their company, they can look no further than offering telework as an option. Data above revealed that employees who are allowed to telework are half as less likely to leave their organization. It shows that the company cares about the work employees are putting in, and also respects their schedules.

  2. Increases Productivity

    According to data compiled by Global Workforce Analytics, JD Edwards teleworkers were 20 to 25 percent more productive than their office counterparts. Also, Best Buy, British Telecom, and Dow Chemical revealed that teleworkers are 35 to 40 percent more productive. Employers who think telework may cause employers to be less efficient in their work product may be incorrect in their assessment.

  3. Employer Savings

    Not having to find space for all these extra workers is a high-cost saver. The average amount annual of real estate savings for companies that offer full-time telework options is $10,000 per employee according to Global Workforce Analytics. Sun Microsystems saves almost $70 million a year in real estate costs, while Dow Chemicals and Nortel keep over 30 percent in non-real estate costs.

  4. Employee Savings

    According to, the average worker saves over $4,500 in gas, car maintenance, dry cleaning, wardrobe, and lunch costs each year by working from home. Today’s work environment requires workers to look the part, handle their costs to get to work and take care of sustenance each day. A telework arrangement takes away a lot of the daily and monthly expenses that come with getting to work each day, likely easing stress.

  5. Reduces Hiring Boundaries

    Employers have a lot more workers to choose from as a result of telework. Telecommuting reduces geographic boundaries, provides easier access to disabled workers and those who are not able to leave their home due to health issues, and reduces barriers for parents and caretakers who have responsibilities that would prevent them from working in an office. This is also a benefit for both employers and employees.

  6. External Benefits

    Teleworking practices keep workers from being at a higher risk for traffic accidents, prevent greenhouse gases emitted from cars reaching the atmosphere, and allows emergency telework employees the option to work even if a natural disaster or catastrophic event were to take place.

Part 3
How to Make a Workplace More Flexible

  1. Measure Results Not Hours

    Employees could sit at their desk for eight hours a day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are accomplishing the tasks laid before them. Leaders should instill a culture where results and outcomes are measured instead of hours. Regardless of when or how employees work, as long as they are meeting goals and deadlines, then employees can enjoy more workplace flexibility.
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  2. Find Out What Flexibility Means to Workers

    For some, flexibility may mean having the option to work from home, while others may like to have an extra hour in the morning to drop off kids from school. Some workers may enjoy having an extra couple of hours at lunchtime to hit the gym or have the option to spend one day at a coffee shop to work. Leaders should sit down with employees to discuss the flexibility they need to be happy and productive at work.

  3. Allow Flexibility in Work Tasks

    If a worker wants to tackle a new project, collaborate with a co-worker on an innovative new idea, or take time to develop a unique skill set; would they have the okay to do it? Workers are looking for work-life balance, but they also want flexibility in the task and projects they choose to work on. Allowing them autonomy to add some diversity in their workload also gives workers a level of freedom they will appreciate.

  4. Connect Workplace Flexibility with Company Goals

    Leaders can get more buy-in from senior leadership if they can show how flexibility programs and incentives can improve business processes and help the company better meet objectives. To make flexibility a part of the company culture, the organization’s vision and mission have to align with these incentives.

  5. Evaluate Flexibility Programs

    How does teleworking benefit workers and their clients? Are parents better able to handle their workload after being allowed to manage their responsibilities? How are these incentives impacting disabled or global workers? Leaders need to be aware of how telework policies are helping the company move forward. It will create opportunities to expand on these programs and can even be used to hire more talent.

Part 4
Telework Mistakes to Avoid

  • Always Be Aware of Who Is Doing What

    Leaders and managers should know what telework incentives workers are taking advantage of. This is where good record keeping and communication come into play. If processes are not organized and well-known, then leaders may think these strategies are not useful if something goes awry. Likely, many of the issues with flexible work arrangements can come back down to a lack of communication. You can use free software such as or to communicate about goals, projects, tasks.

  • Keep a Watch on Overtime and the Tendency for Employees to Overwork

    If employees can work from home, they may feel compelled to collaborate, work on projects, or check emails even when they are not scheduled to work. Therefore, managers need to make all overtime work arrangements clear in worker contracts, so there is not any confusion as to compensation.

  • Have a Contract for Everything

    How much of travel is compensated? How many hours are mandated for the employee to work on a weekly basis? How are these hours tracked? All of these components had to be thought about and planned for before work projects even start.

  • Provide the Right Technologies

    Phone and email may not be sufficient for employees to conduct the business they need to. Workers may need a new laptop, collaboration technologies, or access to local co-working spaces to hold meetings. Teleworking can become difficult if workers do not have the technology they need to get the work accomplished.

  • Not Trialing Telework

    Even though flexible work policies are ideal for most people, telework may not work for everyone. Leaders should have a trial run for most telecommuting policies. This will allow them to cease programs that don’t work or figure out if individual employees benefit more from working on premises.

Part 5
Telework Best Practices

  • Provide Work-Life Balance Tips

    This may be the first time some workers are considering the option of telework, so companies should offer tips and advice for how workers should conduct telecommuting practices while working for their organizations. Providing guidance is one of the best ways to acclimate people to telework.

  • Have a Telework Mentorship Program

    Even for the most dedicated remote worker; it can be tough for employees to cope with a lack of social activity with co-workers. Leaders should employ programs where longer-tenured employees can mentor and guide newer employees. This can help ease them into the company and increase social activity.

  • Have Annual Retreats

    This is a great way to get workers together, allow them to brainstorm, and create bonds with management. Company retreats are a way to spur innovative collaboration and give employees something to look forward to every year.

  • Allow a Space for Employees to Share Their To-Do Lists

    It is helpful for employees and management to know what each other is working on throughout the day. This helps leaders know that teleworkers are being productive, allows workers to have an organized list of accomplishments to share for meetings, and lets everyone know how work is being distributed. is a free software to share to-do lists.

The world of teleworking is still developing, and leaders are still figuring out how it can help companies meet strategic goals while benefiting employees. As time goes on, it is no doubt that telecommuting will continue to evolve in new ways. It is up to both parties to decide if telework innovations continue.

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