Recently, there has been much debate about telecommuting. I can certainly understand the various points of view on the subject because traditional management styles prefer in person interactions and office meetings. However I must be clear, I telecommute approximately 95% of the time and I have to be honest, my company gets an average of 3-4 hours more of work out of me per day. I wholly disagree with many of the aspersions made by the media and some major companies about their telecommuters. Largely, telecommuting is a management style, it requires managers to continue to manage the workloads of their employees. If a company believes that they are having issues with their workers not working properly from home then the very first place they should examine is their management. It is up to executive management, directors and line managers to ensure productivity by employees so it is there that a company must look BEFORE attempting to pull back on their telecommuting employees.
Just like “at the office” employee’s will be as productive as your management chain instructs, manages and monitors them to be productive employees. The fact that a company becomes lax and unproductive is a sign that management is not managing the workload and tasks properly. This is a management failure and not a telecommuter failure. Managers MUST manage, period! I am wholly offended that anyone would call out issues with telecommuting because I do it each day and I am a very productive employee for my company. My management is always on top of what needs to be done and therefore I am as well. The flexibility of working from home is key to my love for my work and I return that gratitude tenfold compared to if I had to work in the office. The “water cooler talk” is something that I don’t miss, most of it is annoying banter, disruptive and workplace noise that does not occur (gratefully) when working from home. If you are considering revising your telecommuter policy because you feel you have unproductive employees you first must look at how your management chain is managing employee completion of tasks and not focus on the place an employee works. There are a continuous stream of ideas that are generated over the phone and instant message, so this “water cooler idea” talk is simply not true and working in an office with random noise and people is more disruptive than contributory.
Studies have shown that employees are much happier, work harder and are more dedicated to their workplace if given a chance to work from home so don’t believe the negative media banter on the subject. Telecommuting is much more green that just about anything else humans can do!
If you are curious about the study, take a look at the following Stanford University study: