Is the traditional office dead? Considering the rate at which trends such as telecommuting are progressing, this question is not nearly as preposterous as it was 10 or 20 years ago. After all, an employee can glean just as much information from an in-person meeting as he or she can from a conversation on a conference call.
For small businesses operating on limited budgets, this trend can seem like a godsend. Employees potentially are happier since they spend less time enduring grueling commutes, and the small business can significantly reduce its infrastructure costs. This is where companies need more than just a phone system, they need collaboration tools that extend their communication across channels. VoIP telephone systems effectively extend the reach of an organization's recruitment efforts, allowing them to hire anyone regardless of their physical location. For business owners who previously were constrained by limited local talent pools, this feature is especially helpful.
Of course, a remote workforce presents plenty of challenges as well. In companies with established face-to-face interactivity best practices, telecommuting can create many unforeseen logistical nightmares. Furthermore, small business owners and managers that are accustomed to overseeing teams in person may have a tough transition to remote workforces. Plus, some businesses say that employees cannot effectively collaborate when they are working remotely, which is why Yahoo famously banned the practice earlier this year. Telecommuting makes strong management a must to ensure that employees are productive, focused and integrated into the larger team chemistry.
Still, despite some of its drawbacks, I firmly believe telecommuting is here to stay. As technology such as cloud computing and mobile devices becomes more prevalent in small business settings, the number of employees who elect to steer clear of the central office on occasion will rise. As such, smaller firms need to plan accordingly and deploy the solutions they need to make a teleworking initiative successful. A high quality phone system is paramount, and many organizations may want to supplement such a system with a unified communications deployment to improve overall collaboration. Telecommuting is certainly a disruptive trend, but the right technology and some proactive planning can ensure that it is not ruining your small business.