Making the Case For Telecommuting

I have been working on a major project for the past 10 months, and the distractions, interruptions, and frustrations of trying to get progress completed on it have really opened my eyes to the benefits of being able to get work done AWAY from the office. The times I have been able to work away from the office, I have gotten more done, with higher quality, in less time, AND I have been happier with my job. Here are some great facts about telecommuting (maybe you can use some to help influence management to let you do some telecommuting too!):

Photo Credit: Paul Mayne via photo pin cc

Employees don’t always like those ‘fun’ activities planned for their enjoyment. 74% of workers don’t like participating in at least one company event. Many don’t like the costume contests (34%) or team-building exercises (31%).

Co-workers don’t make the office environment better. 49% of workers would classify a co-worker as a know-it-all, and 44% say their coworker is a whiner. 40% work with gossips.I’m surprised these percentages are so low! And management doesn’t fare well in the eyes of many employees either. 21% of workers say they need a break from their bosses more than they need a break from their actual work. Speaking of work breaks, managers really shouldn’t question employee dedication – 72% respond to urgent messages from work even while on vacation.

One of the biggest cited reasons for working from home is commute time. And all that time saved by not driving to the office is largely spent on work. 52% spent that extra time on their jobs. Think of the saved fuel, reduced pollution, and energy conservation your company is contributing to. Your company wins with the reduction of costs of keeping that employee in the office, and the employee wins with the saved costs of fueling up their vehicles and wasting time in traffic. You both win by being greener!

Here are some of the things that make managers wince when anyone asks about the chance to telecommute, but to be fair we have to present these too.

  • 43% say they have watched TV or a movie while working from home
  • 35% say they do household chores
  • 25% don’t bother to change out of pajamas when working from home

But even with those stats, people ARE more productive and get more done when working from home, so all that time spent doing chores and watching movies is actually resulting in a better employee.

Listen up management, your employees WANT to telecommute, and not to ‘shirk’ from home, but to be happier, less stressed, and often more productive. 88% are just as productive from home are they are in the office, and a whopping 36% turned out to be MORE productive. Your employees would willingly would give up lunch breaks (32%), alcohol (25%) and coffee (20%) for the chance to work from home.

Working from home has doubled since 1980:

Still not convinced? How about less turnover? With happier, healthier (less stressed) employees, turnover rates decrease!

“If an employee is doing the work and producing the desired results, what difference does it make if he/she includes a nap or cooking or a school play in the so-called work day?”

“The whole point of teleworking, from the employee’s point of view, is the ability to fit one’s work into the rest of one’s life, not the other way around, as is the case in the ‘traditional’ office. The point of teleworking, from the employer’s point of view, is that its bottom-line benefits (productivity gains, space savings, employee retention, etc.) far exceed any feared risks of losses.”

Jack M. Nilles, founder of management consulting firm,JALA International

A Chinese travel agency with a large workforce (over 12,000) wanted to scientifically test the effectiveness of teelcommuting so worked with Standford University to set it up and study it. The company considered the experiment so successful that they implemented a wider telecommuting policy.

Telecommuters were performing better than their counterparts in the office. They took more calls (it was quieter and there were fewer distractions at home) and worked more hours (they lost less time to late arrivals and sick breaks) and more days (fewer sick days). This translated into greater profits for the company because more calls equaled more sales. The telecommuters were also less likely to quit their jobs, which meant less turnover for the company.

“To create a flexible workforce begins with leadership teams building a culture of trust and a vision that focuses on individual results rather than how much time they spend at their desk. You have to empower your people with self-direction. That’s not just common sense, that’s business sense,” says Carolyn Buccongello, Vice President of Human Resources with Microsoft Canada.

What are employers doing to create a flexible workplace?:

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… once you are home working, make sure you read this great post at SmartBoyDesigns by Christian Hollingswoth: How to handle Distractions when Working From Home


Sources: Wakefield Citrix StudyBusiness WeekMobile Europe MicrosoftGigaOMStanford Working From Home Study