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Technology is improving every year, and that means more employees can work from anywhere, at any time. That’s led to a surge in telecommuting, especially in the insurance and technology industries. Entire businesses are being run remotely, using employees in different geographical locations and leveraging laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Assembling a virtual workforce can be a consideration in the hiring process to attract top talent.

However, the right candidates have the discipline to work remotely, and the right managers have strong leadership skills to manage the virtual workforce. It is worth exploring the option of allowing employees to work remotely, especially since job postings that offer an option to telecommute get twice as many responses as those that do not. If the company has open positions that would fit for telecommuters, considering this option can benefit the company immensely.

There is hesitation with some companies because of the myth of the lazy, pajama-wearing remote worker who is more interested in daytime talk shows than the actual job. However, research has wholeheartedly debunked this myth, finding that remote workers are more productive, more engaged, and even work more hours than their office-based counterparts.

Companies who use virtual teams benefit in more ways than just increased productivity. Overhead is decreased because virtual teams can work anywhere, collaborating with file sharing services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Box.net and contacting each other via instant messaging services. Meetings can happen via Zoom, WebEx, or in Google Hangouts. These solutions are either free or very low cost, which compared to the traditional office costs are minimal. Additionally, when the team does meet face-to-face, they meet more efficiently.

Even better is that virtual work environments open up the talent pool to more highly qualified candidates. The right employee might be in the same town, but more often than not, the one that will best fit with the position is not. It also opens up the pool to stay at home mothers, students, partially retired people and other mobile professionals that often are ignored because they cannot physically be at headquarters during traditional office hours.

Adding in that flexible work option, as either part-time or full-time telecommuting, attracts the next generation of workers as well. Generation Y wants that work/life balance, which includes location and office hours that are flexible. These are the workers of today and tomorrow, and putting a telecommuting policy in place can help attract these talented individuals during the hiring process.

In turn, that leads to more satisfied employees. Studies have found that telecommuters are happier in their jobs than those who are in the office. That leads to the aforementioned productivity boost, in addition to making telecommuting workers easier to retain and turning them into enthusiastic advertisers for the company who tell their friends and acquaintances how much they like working there.

Telecommuting does not work for every position, and it is not always the right option for every employee. Companies that want to integrate telecommuting into their everyday work force need to start with a small pilot program, allowing a test team to work from home. If it works well, more teams can start working remotely.

The remote worker option opens up a company to finding the right talent during the hiring process as well as increasing employee satisfaction and fostering employee retention – all of which impact the bottom line positively.

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