Potential Benefits and Barriers of Telecommuting Programs- part 2Posted: June 8, 2013
The first potential benefit is increased productivity. Two ways to increase productivity are:
- Increasing output while simultaneously reducing inputs or keeping them the same. For example, you find new ways to meet increasing demand using the same number of employees and volunteers.
- Maintaining a given level of output while simultaneously reducing input. For example, you find new ways to meet a program goal using less staff hours.
In addition, management should consider the people part of the equation when striving to improve productivity. In other words, changes that result in dissatisfied employees will often time lower productivity instead of raising it. That is why it is important to understand worker needs and motivations as well as the determinants of productivity.
So what are the needs and motivations of employees and volunteers? In general, they can be categorized as follows.
- Economic needs include the need to earn monetary benefits and establish a sense of security.
- Social needs represent the need to have gratifying relationships with other people.
- Ego needs represent a need to demonstrate one’s sense of worth to others or to exercise some type of power over others.
- Achievement needs refer to one’s ability to do something better or more efficiently than it was done before.
Do you understand the needs and motivations of your own employees and volunteers? Telecommuting programs can help to satisfy ego and achievement needs. Depending upon the structure of the program, economic and social needs can also be addressed.
A second potential benefit is becoming more efficient. Based on a number of factors, every nonprofit organization has a certain level of capacity to produce services and benefits. Proper use of resources will allow that capacity to be tapped whereas an inefficient use of resources will not.
A third potential benefit is a favorable impact upon profitability. Costs can be reduced, operating capacity can be increased and new opportunities to generate revenue may result.
Now let’s move on to a brief summary of the barriers.
The lack of support by top management is what I consider to be one of the most significant barriers to a telecommuting program’s success. This generally translates into a lack of trust in staff. Inadequate resources, especially in the way of technology can also present a barrier. Other obstacles to watch out for are unclear performance standards, high employee turnover and personal issues.
Telecommuting is a tool that can improve work group effectiveness. Understanding your organization’s dynamics is a prerequisite to determining if this tool could help your nonprofit or not.
Tuckman’s stages of group development can be helpful in assessing your particular situation. Some groups will simply be forming. At this stage, individuals are determining their task boundaries and how they would fit into the group. Other groups may be storming. This stage is dominated by a high degree of interpersonal conflict and lack of order in the workplace. The group that is norming has established a sense of cohesiveness and developed a clear set of goals. Groups may then evolve into the performing stage. Performing groups actively seek solutions.
Your organization probably has many different groups. At what stages are they functioning and why?
In my final post on this topic, I will suggest a step-by-step approach to implementing a telecommuting program.