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Could Telecommuting Be the Future of Work for Your Business?


Last year, we witnessed an absolute uproar about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to reverse the company’s existing telework policy. This week, the 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list was released. As a nod to the ongoing discussions about company culture, perks, and benefits, we wanted to take this week to talk about telecommuting and the benefits and realities of working remotely.

future of work

Are you missing out on the potentially low-cost benefits of offering teleworking options to your employees? A recent survey showed 64 percent of respondents “identify at least one extremely popular perk or pleasure they’d be willing to give up in order to work from home just one day a week.”

However, as of March 2013, only 16 percent of surveyed workers were actually allowed to work from home — when the definition of telework was defined as working from home for more than one hour per week.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if an additional 10 percent of the nation’s workforce would telecommute just one day a week, Americans would avoid the frustration of driving 24.4 million miles, breathe air with 13,000 tons less air pollution and conserve more than 1.2 million gallons of fuel each week.

Add that to benefits like employees who telecommute largely report that they are happier in their jobs, 36 percent of workers would choose telecommuting over a pay raise, and reduced costs to employers — from reduced real estate and absenteeism to lower turnover, and it can be quite a shock that more companies aren’t offering this option to workers.

There will always be fodder for both sides of the teleworking argument. Some would say it increases productivity by reducing time for commute and in-office distractions. Some would say it gives employees too much autonomy — independence that may be abused by some who work from home. For example, the same survey cited above showed 43 percent of workers said they’ve watched or a movie while “working” remotely, 35 percent have done household chores, and 28 percent have cooked dinner.

It seems the “one size fits all” answer to the teleworking question is that one size certainly doesn’t fit all and whether or not telecommuting is an option for your organization is something that can only be determined by the nature of your industry, employees, and culture.

“Ten years ago, it was seen more as an employee benefit. Today, businesses around the world are seeing telework as a necessity.”

— Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group

For example, while Marissa Mayer felt Yahoo needed to rein in teleworkers to give herself a controlled environment to examine productivity and profitability, having no central office certainly seems to work for WordPress parent Automattic. With more than 120 employees working from home, Automattic’s CEO and leader Matt Mullenweg says he sees remote employees as the future of work.

“The center of gravity for an organization should be as close to what they make as possible. If you make cars, you need people in the factory. If you breed horses, be in the stable. If you make the Internet, live on the Internet, and use all the freedom and power it gives you.”

— Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic

What are your thoughts about telecommuting and the future of work? Does your organization offer telecommuting as an option?