[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 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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