6 Reasons Why Companies Should Allow Telecommuting

telecommuting

[Ryan’s Note: I have a lot of respect an admiration for my community of readers and as a result I’ve been protective of this space and reluctant to allow guest posts. One, it’s silly of me to think that you could learn everything from me when there are so many smart people out there. And two, since I rarely do this you know that I think highly of Rich and feel confident he’s delivered the goods. Enjoy!]

I really love telecommuting. Want to know what I love more than telecommuting? Working for an employer that provides telecommuting as a productivity option. It is empowering to employees, and, well, let me stop there; I’m getting ahead of myself.

During my professional career I’ve worked for two companies thus far. Each had different opinions on telecommuting. The first company, Company A, was a staffing agency, and they didn’t allow telecommuting (unless you wanted to work after hours or on weekends). The second company, Company B, was a global software company, and telecommuting was allowed and even encouraged when needed.

Experiencing life as an employee in these very different companies gave me a first-hand look at why organizations should provide telecommuting as an option to its employees. So why should they? Here are 6 reasons:

1. Empowers Employees

Just having the option to telecommute will make an employee feel powerful and in control. Employees have busy lives outside of work, and if they know they are able to work from home when a situation comes up, they will feel that much better about their employer.

2. Less Pointless Meetings

Most meetings are poorly run, eat up productivity, and don’t have a point. When employees telecommute, managers are less likely to call a random, bullshit meeting that takes you away from your work. When the meetings are actually important, the employee will want to drive in, or fly in to attend.

3. Little to no Interruptions

How many times have you been in the office, working hard on meeting a deadline, when another employee stops by and starts chatting? More than you would like, right? A little bit of office chatter won’t hurt, but a lot is counter-productive.

4. Goodbye Commuter Stress

Driving to work sucks. People with a 10-15 minute commute should consider themselves very lucky. Most people probably report at least a one-way commute time of 45 minutes. Commuting forces us to sacrifice time, sleep, and the availability to perform other life activities. Introduce telecommuting and employees will be more refreshed and much less stressed.

5. Go Green Initiative

Does this need explaining?

6. Swine Flu

I’m sure you are aware of Swine Flu, but do you remember the Avian (bird) Flu, and SARS? It seems a new global pandemic scare pops up every couple years. When things like this come up, a company is responsible for protecting its greatest asset – its employees. Telecommuting is among one of the most effective methods for minimizing spread of infectious disease among company employees, while also keeping it from spreading around the globe.

If you are ready to play devil’s advocate, I know what your next two questions will be.

What about morale?
Most companies suck at morale. It usually starts and ends with management. When a company employs poor management, no matter which way you slice it, morale will suffer. At least with telecommuting, employees can avoid some of the stresses listed above.

What about employees staying focused while working at home?
This question is stupid. If I’m working from home and want to take 15 minutes to watch Regis and Kelly or do my laundry, then so be it. Don’t I take a 15-minute break when someone stops over to chat, or when a 15-minute random meeting is called? How about smokers? How many breaks do they take to go smoke outside during the day? When people aren’t working, it is pretty easy to tell. If a company trusts its employees, that trust will pay dividends.

What are your thoughts on telecommuting? Have you worked for a company that disallowed it? If so, how did it make you feel?

Rich_DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo is the creator of Corn On The Job, a job search, recruiting, and HR blog. Rich is a Philadelphia area HR/Staffing professional with experience in both agency and corporate recruiting. Connect with him through Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, or subscribe to his blog.

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  • This post is one of the more convincing ones to encourage employers/companies to allow or encourage productivity as a productivity and epidemic avoiding option.
    .-= Stanley´s last blog ..Deeper Reflection than Missing a Networking Dinner: Health =-.

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    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Thanks for your kind words Stanley. I’m sure Rich will be flattered to hear it. Personally, I don’t think telecommuting makes sense for a lot of companies, but I know really big companies like Hewlett-Packard have a huge workforce that telecommutes. What about electric engineers like yourself Stanley? Are there many occupations that enable you to effectively telecommute?

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    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Stanley – I really appreciate your comment and your backing on my words. I feel strongly about what I’ve wrote because I’ve lived it and I’ve seen the benefits. Obviously, not every position or company can allow it, but some won’t even consider it as an option.

    The epidemic avoidance is real. Companies do use it as a defense to protect their employees. Think about it. If major corporations allowed employees to work from home during a time of increased spread, it would limit the person to person contact. People could stay at home more often and reduce risk. It makes sense.
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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  • I’m so glad you’re encouraging this because it really can be effective! When I first started my job, I worked part time from home and I got a lot accomplished. It took a little while to get used to the distractions of home – frequent snack breaks in the kitchen, my adorable cat, the rest of the internet…you know, usual stuff. But after awhile I learned how to manage my time. It’s a great option if possible for the company.

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    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Lindsey – Aside from your adorable cat are those not distractions you could have from your office? One thing I’ve learned is that if employees aren’t empowered and don’t believe in what they’re doing they’ll find a way to waste time. I have buddies send me stuff all the time like, “Aw man, my boss asked me to stop playing on Facebook on company time, so I’m using my iPhone. Haha.”

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    Lindsey Reply:

    You’re right Ryan, there ARE other distractions at work, in an office. Facebook and twitter are two big sources of distraction and unless the company blocks these sites, it really doesn’t matter if you’re at home or in the office. At least at home you can work in your pjs, comfortably 🙂
    .-= Lindsey´s last blog ..Paris Gyms: a Spectacle (my Illusionists guest post) =-.

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    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Lindsey – If those frequent breaks are only a couple minutes, and possibly you use a lunch hour to surf the internet, than what is different from being at work? Some companies will argue that people won’t actually work, but I disagree completely. If someone isn’t working, they can find out easily.

    It really is a great option. It reduces stress, increases productivity, and promotes health of employees. I’m a believer!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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  • It’s funny how things can be so timely. I’m in the process of leaving my current company because they won’t give me the option of telecommuting on a full-time basis.

    All your points are great, Rich, and ones I’ve definitely read before. I’ve been able to work from home before and I do find I get more done, I focus better, and when I take breaks its breaking to do things I really enjoy (like video games!).

    I hear you on the pointless meetings. Meetings are the manager’s last resort to say to their manager, “Well I’m doing SOMETHING!”
    .-= Jonathan Hyland´s last blog ..There’s no crying in job hunting! =-.

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    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Jonathan – thanks for the comment! I’m excited for you and your new job. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

    I agree on everything you’ve said. I’ve even played video games during my at home lunch break before. But only when I was crazy about NHL09! That has stopped, and I’m not longer a fake gamer.

    I love people. Everyone knows that about me. But I love being productive, and I love working with people in an effective manner. I don’t need to be in the office to love my co-workers and get along with them. When I come into the office things will be great, but when I’m home I’ll work much better and more will get done.
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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  • Great guest post. Aside from swine flu (which I think is a stretch because you can catch viral diseases anywhere)I agree with all of your points. Empowering employees, giving them a sense of ownership and freedom and letting them know you trust them is tremendous for their output.

    I’m also really glad that going green made it on to Ryan’s blog, even if he wasn’t the one to write it.
    .-= Jake Rosen´s last blog ..Getting a job with social media is about relationships, not content =-.

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    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Jake – thanks for the comment and leaving your thoughts.

    I’m leaving this comment from an HR perspective as well. Through my Masters Degree and HR experience, I’ve always learned that it is the company’s responsibility to protect its employees. Infectious disease is caught easier in large groups, and telecommuting DOES in fact help reduce the spread if people can work from home and STAY at home. That is just a simple fact.

    While I understand that a viral disease can be caught anywhere, it keeps the company employees safer if they are all able to work from home, and are exposed to less people while there is a pandemic scare.

    Let’s say that someone catches it, but doesn’t know it yet and they go into work where they work in close quarters. How many people in the company can catch it? 5? 10? 100? When there is a pandemic scare that becomes serious, letting employees work from home for a while keeps a viral disease in their house and helps contain any spread. Again, this is something that I’ve been trained on as an effective method in my HR Risk courses.

    Thanks for your comment and thoughts!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    1.) Going green is SO overrated.
    2.) If anyone can attest to something being a good managerial strategy, it’s Jake as for a little over a year I’ve been lucky to be under his guidance, which to me always felt like working alongside him. A skill, in my experience, you won’t be able to find among most managers.
    3.) I don’t think it has to be as big as the swine flu. Even someone with a stomach bug having the freedom to work from home (provided they’re feeling up to it) without having to use a sick day goes a long way with employee morale.

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  • Rich,

    As somebody who gets to work from home several days a week and has a boss who doesn’t concern himself with face time, I love this post. I’ve found my productivity in this job to be at an all time high and I get a nice balance in my life. I find that I’m more excited and I don’t dread the idea of going to an office every day. So that way when I do go the office I’m in a great mood.

    [Reply]

    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Srini – Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you have a great amount of respect for your boss? He trusts that you will get work done without being in the office, and you do. When you do go in the office you enjoy your time there, and know you can leave at any pont.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    What a good comment to illustrate that telecommuting can increase morale, but also make you MORE excited when you do join your peers in the office. Thanks for sharing that with us Srini.

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  • It’s really hard for me to work at home. I get distracted, I snack too much, and it’s hard to collaborate on spur of the moment ideas. I also lose touch with the company and what we’re all working towards.

    Telecommuting is fine every once in awhile – maybe when your laundry machine breaks down or you have to get your car tuned, or you are traveling for work and you want to stay a couple extra days. In general though, it doesn’t work well for me, and I think that companies are worried about that.

    I hate commutes, so one of my requirements for a job is that I can live within 15 minutes of the office. It’s greener and convenient, and I don’t feel like I’m wasting so much time. That’s my compromise to the telecommuting dilemma.

    Interesting post!
    .-= Monica O’Brien´s last blog ..Untemplate Your Life at Untemplater.com! =-.

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    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this, Monica! We all have our own likes and dislikes when it comes to work,and this will have to be something we respectfully disagree on.

    We all focus differently, and I’m glad you KNOW what helps you! Also, good to know you’ll always have a 15 minute commute.!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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  • While I do like going into the office when I can, I LOVE having the option of working from home. I’ve been having back issues this week (got a MRI yesterday to prove it), and need to be comfortable to get things done. I can still work, my brain isn’t damaged, I just might need to conduct phone calls on my side…or wear really smelly mineral ice gel. These aren’t always welcome in the office, at least without getting some kind of gossip mill running. This flexibility is a big reason why I’m still happy to work.
    .-= Emily Jasper´s last blog ..This Ain’t Your Mama’s Moon Race =-.

    [Reply]

    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Emily – sorry to hear about your back! You can still work if you have a back ache, and you can still be productive as you see. If you weren’t allowed to work from home, your company would sacrifice productivity, and you’d need to take sick days that would stop you from enjoying real vacation days.

    Thanks for the comment!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

    [Reply]

    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Perfect illustration of a logical example where it’s clear that both the organization and the employee benefit from telecommuting.

    [Reply]

  • As an employee that works solely as a telecommuter at this point, I appreciate this post. It’s important to remember, however, that interruptions in the work place are often much less common than interruptions at a home office or while working from a coffee shop. In theory, everybody in the work place has things to get done…not necessarily the case at home.

    You make a great point about pointless meetings – when my employers call me in for a meeting, they better be serious because it’s at least a 3 hour drive. Speaking of long drives, I can’t even imagine the time some people can save by cutting out their commute. From the employer’s standpoint, that time saved translates to less fatigue and less necessity to cut out of work occasionally for personal needs.

    Nice post, Rich. Ryan made a good call by inviting this rare post from the outside.
    .-= Scott Hale´s last blog ..The Problem with RSS =-.

    [Reply]

    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Scott – thanks for your comment on this. I will respectfully disagree with you on the interruptions in the workplace as compared to in the office. I should admit, that I’ve never done work in a coffee shop. Maybe it is because I don’t drink coffee, but I’ve only worked at home when telecommuting and there are zero interruptions.

    If there is, it is because I’ve made it one. I usually lock myself in my bed room or work in the basement and have nothing but peace and quiet. Maybe a friend calls, and I’ll pick up, but I wouldn’t have in the office. Maybe we talk for 5 minutes – who cares? I feel there are many more distractions in the office, but maybe that is just my experience.

    Most meetings can really be turned into a quick 5-10 minute one on one phone call, or a conference call with a group. On the phone, people move quicker than when they are in person.

    Thanks for your comment, Scott. Really appreciate your kind words too!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

    [Reply]

    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Two things from me:

    1.) I don’t think you can generalize either way in terms of where there’s more distractions. I think it’s dependent on the employee, the company, and a lot of other mitigating factors at play. I can attest to the fact that I can get more done from home because when I HAVE to buckle down, focus and churn something out I know I have peace and quiet. Also, I find that taking 5 minutes to empty the dishwasher is often really refreshing, giving me a small break and letting me return more re-focused.

    2.) My commute used to be 10-12 minutes going, 20-22 or so coming back from the office. So about 30 minutes a day. Like Rich said, most people have significantly longer commutes. I was amazed at how much extra stuff I could get done in a week just by cutting out the commute.

    [Reply]

  • Hey Ryan – I can agree with you on Number 1. It really does depend on a number of things, but personally, I’ve always found less distraction at home. Maybe I hate feeling “stuck” in an office setting…?
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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  • Great post Rich,

    I heard Inc. Magazine is shutting down their offices for a month to have their staff work remotely. Its an interesting concept and I would love to see me companies trying it out.

    Here is the article if your interested.
    http://www.good.is/post/inc-magazine-will-operate-without-an-office/
    .-= Tony Ruiz´s last blog ..10 Ways to Stay Productive (Online and Offline) =-.

    [Reply]

    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hi Tony – I’m interested to hear how Inc. Magazine fairs when they shut down and have people work remotely. I think it is great that they are willing to trying that option out. Thanks for posting the article!
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

    [Reply]

    Tony Ruiz Reply:

    No problem Rich. I very interested in seeing how it works out. I’m sure if its a success other major companies with start implementing the same concept.
    .-= Tony Ruiz´s last blog ..10 Ways to Stay Productive (Online and Offline) =-.

    [Reply]

  • My devil’s advocate is what about endless office supplies just outside your door/cube whenever you need them?

    Silly, I know, but offices are set up to have most everything you need in that little closet. When I’m working from home and need paperclips, rubber bands, pens/highlighters and don’t have any it’s irksome.

    Fixable…but irksome nonetheless. 🙂

    Otherwise, yes, I agree with telecommuting very much.
    .-= Elisa´s last blog ..Love Is All… =-.

    [Reply]

    Rich DeMatteo Reply:

    Hey Elisa – while I won’t agree with you on the standard supplies, having an entire mail room at the office is helpful. Not having access to the mail room created most challenges for me. Recruiting for offices around the country sometimes requires paper copies of applications, resumes, and other interview documents to be shipped in their form and not scanned. So great point on this, but I’m sticking to my opinion! :o)
    .-= Rich DeMatteo´s last blog ..Thoughts about starting out with a start-up =-.

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