Article by Claude Calleja published on The Sunday Times of Malta on 12th April 2020

Telework sounds like a fancy work-from-your-telephone type of job, but it’s just a synonym for telecommuting. Telework does not, however, refer to a situation in which a worker sometimes takes work home, where the worker’s work involves a lot of work on the building site, travelling or selling. The term refers to a case where employees or employers do not commute to the main workplace for work but work from home or totally off-site. In other words, it is a work environment in which work duties are fulfilled outside the regular office locations.

How formally or informally telework is regulated depends on the company and the needs of the worker. Some telework arrangements require no more than a phone line, while to the other extreme others require a complete home office setup.

Certain employees who work from home are more productive than their home office counterparts, according to statistics cited by Global Workplace Analytics. Companies can save up to €2,000 per employee per year by saving on office space while reducing attrition and boosting productivity. According to a recent survey, 95% of employers say that working from home helps to keep employees in business for long, and employees who take this option claim that it helps keep workers longer and ensures that hiring ends up being a more prudent investment.

All this gives companies an advantage by saving energy consumed in the office, reducing the need for office space, and reducing the amount of maintenance an office would require while an employee works from home. Finally, teleworking will reduce the number of absences of those working from home and increase the number of potential workers applying for jobs because of the flexibility that it provides, even in different geographical areas.

By allowing their employees to work from home, companies can significantly reduce the overheads associated with working in an office. IBM said a flexible workplace policy saved it €50 million in real estate. The increased productivity is attributed to the reduction in working hours and the increase in work-life balance. According to the report, up to 60% of the commuting time can be converted into working time. Although one would think that this does not apply to Malta, being a small island, on the other hand, everyone knows the traffic situation.

Today’s work environment requires workers to buy office clothes, pay for dry cleaning and manage the cost of getting to work. Telework arrangements can take away some of the daily and monthly expenses associated with the daily commute to and from work, which is likely to reduce stress.

Telework allows employees to use software and work anywhere with a reliable Internet connection. You can talk to colleagues, work on projects, conduct meetings with customers without having to come to the office. It is safe to say that the ability for workers to do work from home without needing a car or even an office space can shake up the workforce, according to telework experts. With today’s cloud-based solutions and teleworking tools, this has become a very plausible reality.

The benefits of teleworking should improve workers’ mood, which can lead to increased productivity, even if there are no strict rules. If a worker knows that they will be able to provide for their family even in the event of an unforeseen circumstance or a child falling ill, this will be highly considered when assessing working conditions. Teleworking shows its best performance when it works with a goal, as it must be well structured, and this goal can mean a significant increase in performance.

Despite initial doubts, the study shows remarkable advantages. According to the study, homeworkers are over 15 per cent more productive primarily because their mood improves throughout the day. Most workers choose to telework for the very practical reasons primarily because it saves them time and money.

Adaptability and resilience are human traits that have brought us this far as a species. We need to continue being adaptable and resilient to our ever-changing environment not only to survive but also to thrive.
eSkills Malta Foundation encourages this mode of working. Still, in the long term to be successful, it must include the basic elements of an office, including having the right teleworking tools, sticking to a working and rest schedule, and eventually adopting the right professional approach the usual professional practice deserves.

This article was prepared by collating various publicly available online sources.