The telecom­mute op­tion

“Collins' com­pany in­ter­viewed work­ers to find out where their best work was done. They found that peo­ple re­port putting forth their best ef­forts at home, at a cof­fee shop, at places other than their work desks.”

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - Ok­sana Tashakova

MORE com­pa­nies are choos­ing to al­low their work­ers the op­tion of work­ing from home. Is this some­thing you should con­sider? Busi­ness con­sul­tant Ge­or­gia Collins ex­plains that the abil­ity to con­cen­trate is one of the big­gest rea­sons you may want to utilise this op­tion in a CNN Money ar­ti­cle. Collins points out that cu­bi­cles aren't good for con­cen­tra­tion be­cause you can hear ev­ery­thing that's go­ing on and hav­ing a pri­vate of­fice isn't ben­e­fi­cial if you're in­ter­rupted all day. Work­place in­ter­rup­tions are the most com­mon time-waster in com­pa­nies.

Collins' com­pany in­ter­viewed work­ers to find out where their best work was done. They found that peo­ple re­port putting forth their best ef­forts at home, at a cof­fee shop, at places other than their work desks. The peo­ple Collins in­ter­viewed said that they felt that work­ing from home one to two days a week could greatly im­prove their out­put.

In an­other CNN ar­ti­cle, Patrick Er­win of Ca­reer­ de­scribes some of the com­pa­nies that are of­fer­ing telecom­mut­ing op­tions to their work­ers. Aetna in­sur­ance com­pany be­gan such a pro­gramme a few years ago and par­tic­i­pa­tion has jumped 300 per cent. About 27 per cent of the com­pany's em­ploy­ees now work from home.

Not ev­ery­one has this op­tion be­cause Aetna makes sure that the job is an ap­pro­pri­ate one for do­ing re­motely, that the per­son's home of­fice is ap­pro­pri­ate and that the em­ployee is a self-mo­ti­vated one.

PR re­cruiter Lind­say Ol­son re­ports that of­fer­ing telecom­mut­ing op­tions can in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and em­ployee loy­alty in a US News ar­ti­cle. It al­lows peo­ple to work when they're at their most pro­duc­tive, and this can vary widely for peo­ple. Not hav­ing to com­mute frees up time for work­ers and they can ac­com­plish home tasks too, re­liev­ing stress.?A USA To­day ar­ti­cle says that re­search sup­ports the ben­e­fits of telecom­mut­ing. Ab­sen­teeism isn't an is­sue and there is less staff turnover. Less space is needed for of­fices and park­ing and em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity and morale in­creases. Pro­duc­tiv­ity in­creases range from 10 to 25 per cent among re­mote work­ers. It may be hard for a tra­di­tional com­pany to con­sider re­mote work­ers be­cause they don't trust work­ers to work with­out some­one stand­ing over them. Telecom­mut­ing re­quires a change in think­ing in which em­ploy­ees should be their re­sults, by what they de­liver rather than how or when they spend their time.

There is a large pool of tal­ented work­ers that such a change could make use of. Dis­able peo­ple, sin­gle moth­ers, those that live far away and other non­tra­di­tional work­ers could be utilised.

There are ways you can en­sure that work­ers pro­duce if you're wor­ried about how they ac­tu­ally spend their time. You can have them log their hours and progress which will cre­ate ac­count­abil­ity. You can set up clear ex­pec­ta­tions about how the work will be done: dead­lines and sta­tus re­ports and the like.

In Busi­ness­week's de­bate forum, Nathaniel Boren­stein and Ben Waber dis­cuss the pros and cons of al­low­ing em­ploy­ees to work from home.

Boren­stein says the op­tion in­creases your abil­ity to at­tract top tal­ent be­cause you aren't lim­ited by ge­o­graphic area. He re­ports that some busi­nesses save as much as $8,000 per year per telecom­mut­ing em­ployee. Of­fice costs drop and em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity in­creases.

Waber wor­ries that the lack of face-to­face in­ter­ac­tion could af­fect per­for­mance neg­a­tively. In­deed, some em­ploy­ees find that they miss the so­cial in­ter­ac­tion that the work­place of­fers them. Waber has con­ducted stud­ies in which he found that em­ploy­ees in­volved in wide­spread, faceto-face, work­place net­works are twice as pro­duc­tive as those that com­mu­ni­cate mostly through email. Waber says that so­cial in­ter­ac­tion boosts re­ports of job sat­is­fac­tion but that email does not.

It is some­thing to con­sider. A face-to­face dis­cus­sion might take some­thing like an hour while email­ing back and forth to cover the same ma­te­rial could take days. Waber thinks that kind of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is bad for em­ploy­ees men­tal health and that with­out face-to-face in­ter­ac­tions, worker will be­come less com­mit­ted to each other and the com­pany over­all.

Skype and other video con­fer­enc­ing op­tions could help com­bat so­cial iso­la­tion and in­crease con­nect­ed­ness.

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