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The “gig economy” has accelerated the growth of telecommuting, especially among younger workers and Millennials seeking employment opportunities through staffing agencies. Some managers have been resistant to the trend, such as Marissa Mayer, who famously banned the practice when she came on board to save Yahoo.

But as the talent pool shrinks in an expanding economy, the expansion of telecommuting is something companies should consider – carefully. It’s not for everyone. Working from home requires discipline and focus, something that is easier to attain at the workplace for some employees. Distractions abound in a home office, ranging from household chores to mid-afternoon soccer games on television. And, of course, it’s not an option at all for some jobs, such as many in the health care field.

Telecommuting does have some advantages, however, and it is good for staffing agencies to build relationships with companies who might prefer or encourage the practice.

Here are some pros:
–So called “agile work strategies” allow for better work-life balance in some situations.
–Younger workers, who may carry valuable skill sets, are very interested in the practice, and such allowances can factor into recruiting.
–Fewer onsite employees means lower office-maintenance costs, such as rent, utilities and janitorial services.
–It eases recruiting for employers in areas with significant housing costs, especially in the urban areas favored by younger, skilled workers.

But there are cons to a commute-free work environment:
–If an employee is not fully trusted, managers may question whether they are truly putting in the hours they report. Less disciplined hourly workers may stumble into overtime and wage-law territory.
–Workers compensation and liability issues may be cloudy if an employee works from home.
–Team-building may suffer, as may the benefits of workplace collaboration and discussion.
–If the option is not made available to all employees, some may feel treated unfairly.

But despite the drawbacks, staffing agencies need to prepare for clients wanting to offer telecommuting options to workers.

It’s in the employment tea leaves: 37 percent of workers have telecommuted, according to Gallup300 percent increase increase since 1997, according to Business News Daily.
Contact an AtWork franchise for more information on telecommuting options and the increasing staffing changes driven by technology.

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