Hold up: You’re not going anywhere

It’s not for a lack of enabling technologies that telecommuting is still to experience greater adoption among organizations.

In fact, you’d expect more than just 58 per cent of the IT workforce to report a higher rate of telecommuting than it did five years ago, as per a recent study by Robert Half Technology. Respondents were CIOs of companies with 100 or more employees.

While the biggest benefits cited were productivity and improved morale, the issue isn’t so linear. For starters, some IT jobs are just better suited to telecommuting than others, therefore barring those jobs requiring workers to be on-site to provide support or face-to-face client interaction.

But for those jobs conducive to telecommuting, the challenge for any IT department is managing remote workers beyond the corporate walls. It’s tricky enough maintaining security and privacy around onsite employees.

An employee working from home presents a potential outlet for corporate data and other intellectual property. Unauthorized individuals, say friends and family, could access the information intentionally or inadvertently while browsing the employee’s computer.

But besides security, privacy becomes an issue when documents, like company invoices or staff and client contact listscontaining addresses and phone numbers, are also accessible.

Similarly, PCs and unattended mobile devices are often targets for theft, and serve as easy access points for intruders to enter the network. Data leakage or theft can be a hefty price to pay for boosting morale and productivity.

Lack of trust But just as PCs and mobile devices are hard to track, so are workers, at least from the point of view of leadership who may wonder whether employees are being as productive at home as they would be in the office.

Lack of trust can be enough of a deterrent to telecommuting, but the reluctance might also stem from the worker who battles that perception of less productivity working at home.

Peer relations, too, suffer when team members are absent from the office, and so could work/life balance when professional and personal surroundings get morphed into one.

IT managers need to enforce guidelines and expectations around telecommuting — for instance, measures to counter the higher risk of mobile device theft, or rules around maximum number of days allowed in a week for telecommuting.

Telecommuting should be worthwhile for all stakeholders. Ideally, a company should strive to balance convenience to the worker, the assurance of security and privacy, and improved peer relations within teams.

Current technology may exist to facilitate telecommuting, but that doesn’t mean everyone should do it.

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