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.”
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 CareerBuilder.com 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.