Pat Vickers, Expert in Help Desk Management

Should You Allow Telecommuting?

Should you allow telecommuting? The answer is yes, as many as possible, as soon as possible. I know. I know. Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer recently told all of her telecommuters to come back to the office claiming employees are less productive at home. But do we really want to follow the lead of the company that passed up the opportunity to buy Google and Facebook on numerous occasions? And as anyone on Yahoo Mail can tell you, the decision has not improved service. Aside from bashing an incredibly successful company, I do have a strong case to make for telecommuting. Consider the following 2 reasons:

1) Money

As the economy struggles to grow most companies are still looking for ways to increase profit and productivity. The biggest expense, by far, of almost all companies is employees, making it the obvious place to look for fat to trim. The problem for most organizations is all the fat got cut between 2006 and 2010. Now there is nothing but muscle.

The second biggest expense for most companies is space. In addition to the monthly rental on space there is the cost of heating and cooling the space, lighting the space and cleaning the space. Employees that work from home offer all of that for free. That’s right. A free space, with free heat and air, often the phone service is free. A company that allows 30% of its employees to work from home could possibly give up 20% of the space currently being rented. That could mean big money, even for small companies.
You can save money on new hires as well. Studies show that prospective employees are often willing to work for less when allowed to work from home.

2) It’s Really Easy Being Green

The greenest thing any company can do is allow employees to work from home. Imagine just 10% of the work force no longer on the roads every morning and afternoon. What would that do to the total fuel consumption of the world, not to mention to the bank accounts of the employees? The people left on the road would probably use less fuel as well, in that there would be less traffic, less stop and go, resulting in shorter commute times. It’s something you could mention in company news, how you are doing your part to lessen the world’s dependency on fossil fuels.

The Down Side

You know those problem employees you have, the ones that spread negativity? If they have to come in every day while others are allowed to work from home they will reach hither to unseen levels of nastiness. At every opportunity they will make insulting remarks suggesting those not at the office are not actually working but are watching soaps and playing with their kids. I like to remind them that I will keep that in mind if they are ever up for a telecommuting position.
The other downside is some people actually do watch soaps and play with their kids. And it can be a problem. Most telecommuters are very conscientious and are at least as productive as the employees at the office. Those that aren’t should be brought back in immediately, or fired.

The Big Questions

So the big questions for most managers are, who should be allowed to work at home and how can we implement it. Those are tough questions but Tool Kit Café can help. If you are contemplating a new telecommuting policy or are experiencing trouble with your current telecommuters consider The IT Telecommuting Policy Tool kit. It has everything you need to create your policy, determine who should be eligible and who should not, training for telecommuters, support policies, contracts and more.

Have any funny or not funny telecommuting stories to share? Post them here or email the editor. We love to hear both sides of an issue.

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