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Is it time to give telecommuting another look?

As I brainstorm with individuals and organizations on ways to improve work-life balance, one of the options that comes up is telecommuting.

The thought makes some employers bristle, for sure... the possibility of lost hours of production due to the distractions of home...  the laundry calling... the dog barking in the hopes of a walk...  phone calls from friends.

But many leaders and companies are giving it a second look, for a number of reasons beyond work-life balance.

Interestingly enough, studies have shown that creating flexibility through strategies like telecommuting can have a positive impact on loyalty AND productivity. 

I'll post more on these in the future, but for today I wanted to look as some other timely reasons companies are making the switch.

Going green is one reason. As many companies are trying to become more environmentally friendly, they look to telecommuting to help. In fact, one study found that telecommuting cut gas consumption in the U.S. by 840 million gallons last year.Telecommute

Another reason is higher gas prices.  In fact, the recent increases at the pump has pushed telecommuting out of its "Just for the Young Employees" category, and made it a perk that appeals to all ages and all levels of management. One recent study of IT executives showed that 33% of the execs studied had increased the days they telecommuted last year.

Improvements in technology are opening up these possibilities as well. 

For example, I was recently conducting some generational training with a client and the issue of telecommuting came up. 

One executive quickly dismissed it by saying "That's something we tried last year, but it didn't work."

But another exec in the room quickly responded by bringing up the fact that some of their recent software upgrades would allow for a lot more flexibility and remote access.

So, they are going to give it another look.

How about you? Is it time to give it a try?

If so, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Start slow
    • Find certain groups or projects to test it with
    • Set specific parameters and measure impact on performance and productivity (Many companies have seen an increase in production!)
    • Pick projects or jobs that allow for clear benchmarks for productivity
  • Another tip is to offer it as a reward
    • Offer telecommuting as an option for employees that have proven themselves
    • Let it be a carrot for consistently providing excellent work and for working well independently

What do you think?

Where have you tried it?

How could it work for you? How has it worked for you? What tips would you offer?

Click "comments" below and jump in the conversation!

For some additional ideas, check out Telework Coalition.

photo credit: sean dreilinger

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Comments

Thanks for the link! Telecommuting is definitely awesome and not just for the Gen Y crowd.

I've been working from home one day per week for the last several months. I am a member of Gen Y and suggested the idea to my employer. For me, the largest benefit is a change in atmosphere. Once a week I get to make tea from my own kettle, stop by the fridge to make lunch and enjoy the comfort of my own home while working.

With a work-issued laptop I can log in to our corporate network, take conference calls via phone or participate in webinars.

Outside of all the comfort-related benefits, I also get to save myself a 40-mile roundtrip commute, which adds up over the course of a month.

I would encourage more employers to take a look at telecommuting and talk to their employees about what they think of it.

Mike and Sachu -

Thanks for checking in!

Mike, thanks for your insight on your experience with telecommuting! I know most people would take a little more variety AND an extra 40 minutes on any given day!

Great stuff!

Mitch

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