How big a deal is telecommuting? Bigger by the day, especially if you’re working for or running a large company. And as business leaders and employees get more comfortable with the idea that telecommuters can be highly productive working from home, it’s going to get even bigger.

Global Workplace Analytics’ research finds that:

  • 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20–25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency
  • 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50–60% of the time.
  • 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.

New time card software makes it possible for you to track when your remote employees “go to work” and when they take breaks, replacing old-fashioned paper timesheets and time clocks. Your IT system needs to be robust enough to integrate with this, and a high degree of tech support at its introduction is essential to making it function properly. But the money, paperwork, and time it saves will almost certainly make up for its initial cost.

Do your employees know how to use remote tools like teleconferencing and page sharing? Without the needed tech knowhow, they’re not going to be as productive as they could be, and precious time will be wasted trying to learn on the fly. Invest in employee education to keep your people on track with the changes in their work environment.

Keep communication flowing by organizing regular check-in meetings among people working remotely on a common project; make sure everyone knows how to use instant messaging and video chats.

Clearly, telecommuting is here to stay. But with any innovation comes a degree of challenge, and this is no exception. Fortunately, many of the challenges can be met by simply making sure your business triangle is kept in alignment; people, processes, and IT have to learn to work together in new ways, to support this new way of working.