Jessica Miller-Merrell | , , , , , , , ,| By
Most days I work from home. I’m either in my home office or cuddled up on my bed typing, designing, and talking away. I like it here. It’s warm, convenient, comfortable, and costs less. Vehicle maintenance and gas expenses are drastically reduced. My cats like my virtual work space too. They sneak in for a quick snuggle or a pet. In fact, there are two at my feet as I type. Working from home is a balance. I often get too caught up in work, and it’s not uncommon for me to work late into the night.
Mobile Technology and a Flexible Workplace
But beside my own personal struggle for work and life balance, one of the benefits as well as curses from virtual work is the ability to office anywhere. I’ve been known to travel with my husband like I did a couple weeks ago in DC. My mobile devices like my iPad, iPhone and tools like Google Voice and DropBox (affiliate link) make working anywhere a breeze. My schedule remains mobile and flexible to accommodate my life as it ebbs, flows, and changes. My work does too.
SHRM has taken quite the stance on a flexible workforce over the last 18 months and recently published a Flexible Workforce Spotlight outlining four main types of flexible workforce arrangements. These offer the opportunity for an employee to have give and take surrounding their work schedule but still report to the office for work.
Advantages of Telecommuting
Telecommuting, on the other hand is the ability to work from home or away from the office like I do. The most popular form of telecommuting is on an ad hoc basis meaning that it’s not scheduled or happens on a formal basis. Forty-five percent of SHRM members surveyed currently provide ad hoc telecommuting programs as an employee benefit at work. Ad hoc telecommuting provides much needed flexibility balance from work and life from time to time like maybe you or someone in your family is sick and ask your boss to work from home today.
Providing work and life balance for employees offers not only increased employee satisfaction but the opportunity for operational cost savings for companies and entities like the Federal Government. In 2010, Obama signed the Federal Telework Bill into law providing Federal government agencies the opportunity to take advantage of telework programs for their employees. Just last week, the government released a report focusing on mobility and the use of mobile technology as part of their telework programs. The report is available for download. Some of the highlights include:
- 89% of Federal employees say a mobile phone makes them more productive at work.
- 62% of agencies allow employees to use personal devices like phones, computers, and tablets for work.
- 82% of agencies have provided encryption services for sensitive data on personal mobile devices.
Telecommuting & Mobile Technology Security
One of the biggest concerns for the mobile workforce whether from home or while traveling is security. On one hand, our IT teams want to make sure our corporate data and information is protected while on the other hand employees want quick access to information without logging onto their laptop VPN. Government agencies like NASA have deployed mobile apps making employee mobile access to contact information.
When it comes to mobile and the virtual workforce, employers will need to provide boundaries and training to help employees establish a balance between work and life. While work can be fulfilling, at the end of the day, employees need a separation between work life and home life. It keeps us engaged, having fun, and at the top of our game.