Lessons learned from 3-plus years of telework

Employee participates in a Zoom meeting on a laptop while drinking coffee.
Three years of telework has taught employees and employers plenty of lessons.

The alarm goes off, you brush your teeth, grab a bagel and pour yourself a cup of coffee. Your morning routine is the same with one major change: No more commutes.  

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have continued to let their employees work from home. In recognition of Global Work from Home Day on April 10, now is a good time to reflect on the lessons we have learned about being effective teleworkers while still maintaining work/life balance.

While offering a telework benefit is a great way to reduce the number of drivers on the road, many businesses had never explored the concept prior to the pandemic. With many businesses putting telework practices into place during the pandemic and beyond, the data is showing the benefits of this alternative work solution.

According to a work study at sciencedirect.com telecommuting has helped reduce daily automobile trips and traffic congestion, improve air quality, and help reduce wear and tear on automobiles and transportation infrastructure.  

For workers and employers, the same study shows telework can increase productivity and efficiency, offer flexibility in schedules, and improve employee work-life balance. The latter two have been proven to aid in employee satisfaction and retention, according to studies by Pew Research.

That same survey by Pew said 44% of employees find working from home makes it easier for them to get their work done and meet deadlines.

Some benefits are less obvious, such as time gained. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the mean commute time in Tucson is 24.6 minutes, and the national average is just over 26 minutes, meaning a teleworker has almost a half hour of extra time to devote to themselves or family. By keeping the car parked in the home garage, teleworkers also see fewer vehicle-related expenses.

More flexible work hours lead to other benefits for employees, such as a sense of freedom from micromanagement. A recent survey cited on realestatewitch.com found that roughly 27% of employees said one of the main causes of frustration with their jobs in 2022 was micromanagement, which is a significant decrease since 2020. According to the study, the trust that comes from that autonomy “is key for building successful remote teams and improving employee productivity, work quality, job satisfaction, and engagement.”

In this era of telework, managers and companies are focused more on completing quality work rather than tracking hours and requiring employees to be in the office.

Having happy, productive workers goes hand in hand with a sound teleworking policy. Telecommuting can’t be successful without having a clearly defined plan in place. Create those explicit expectations, and employees will not only be more successful, but you’ll find a more content workforce. Learn more about the benefits of telework. For assistance in setting up a telework program or learning more about telework, email Mary Carter, the manager of Pima Association of Governments’ Travel Reduction Program, at mcarter@PAGregion.com or call (520) 495-1424.