Telecommuting is becoming a widely accepted practice throughout all industries. Surveys show that more than 13 million people here in the US currently telecommute for at least part of their workweek. And research suggests that as many as 45 percent of all positions are prime candidates for telecommuting.
This can benefit both the employee and the employer in many ways.
For the employee, it means they can wake five minutes to 9, grab a quick cup of coffee and be settled into a chair and busy at work with little interruption.
For the employer, they can have a much wider draw for potential employees, choosing specific people to meet specific needs based on their resume, not on their geographical location.
But while some industries – media, IT, finance, accounting – have embraced the telecommuting concept effectively, other industries lag behind.
Healthcare is one of them. Since a lot of the healthcare process involves patient interaction, the industry hasn’t been receptive to allowing people to work from multiple locations.
The key to its success is with the changing technology. Telemedicine is enabling doctors to treat patients from remote locations. Advanced billing and practice management technology is allowing offsite employees to secure administrative roles.
Like many other decisions made within a successful medical practice, working remotely has its pros and cons.
As a manager, providing the best work experience possible for your staff is always top of mind. Again and again, studies show that remote workers are 10 to 15 percent more satisfied with their jobs and are more loyal to their employers than their office worker counterparts. And by allowing some of your staff to telecommute, you can reduce office expenses including utilities, workspace, and even salaries.
Because people won’t have long commutes in and out of the office, they often have more time to do the things required at home, and are better able to split their work/personal time effectively. Which means in many cases they become more focused at work, and are often more productive in their accomplishments.
Of course telecommuting solely starts with having a flexible position. While it won’t work for the people that meet with people directly throughout the day, the most obvious place to start is with the admin department – medical billing, data entry, patient follow-up, and the like.
The key to allowing more flexibility throughout the office is starting with an advanced, secure web-based IT solution. Chances are your billing and patient management programs are mostly electronic, but how secure are they when accessed remotely? How effective is your security when a program is accessed through different devices – an employee’s smartphone or tablet – or accessed in a non-secure area, such as a coffee shop?
If your employees have been requesting working remotely, or if you’ve considered using it to reduce your expenses, the best place to start is by giving it a shot. Ease into it with a test period in order to understand your needs. We can help you by supplying a thorough list of procedures and resources that should be in place before your first employee starts up her computer in her home office.
Then keep a close eye on how well it works for the two of you. Clear and open communication is the key. The more you learn, the easier it will be. And you may quickly discover that it can open up a world of benefits you never considered before.
Do any of your employees telecommute? What’s been your biggest concern?