I’ve heard a lot in recent months from the media as well as corporate executives that telework is just a “gimmick.” But, while companies look for ways to profit and grow in today’s challenging economy, employees are trying balance an ever demanding work load with just plain life.
I have been researching telework for over three years. I have attended workshops, seminars and national conferences. I have spoken to experts in the subject, to corporate executives from Fortune 100 companies who have programs, and to numerous telework employees. I have even published an entire website dedicated to supporting Telework, TheOfficeEvolution.com. With over 28 million people currently engaged in non-traditional flexible work arrangements, there is a reason that number is growing steadily.
Here are just a few reasons why the negative nellies are wrong about telecommuting:
- Companies find that by down-sizing portions of their expensive corporate real estate holdings and sending workers home, they are able to increase profits and productivity while attracting and retaining higher quality employees. (fact)
- Companies use telework as a way to stabilize in difficult economic times without laying off employees (fact). Most telework programs are structured around “task oriented” jobs that don’t require “visibility” and make it easier to use results based metrics to gauge effectiveness. (fact)
- Many studies have shown teleworkers to work harder, longer and be more productive than their office counterparts by up to 40 percent. (fact) Ever heard of “presenteeism?” That is where employees show up to the office everyday but don’t do anything. Those are your real “slackers.”
- There is a financial benefit to teleworkers (who are usually on the lower end of the corporate pay scale) who no longer have to spend money on commuting, parking, day care, work wardrobes, lunch, and dry cleaning, making them more dedicated, loyal, happier and less likely to leave by reducing the costs of searching hiring and training new employees. (fact)
- Companies also lose millions each year through absenteeism. In a study done by Global Workplace Analytics, if just 40 percent of all U.S. employees worked from home it would reduce costs associated with absenteeism by $46 billion. (fact)
- By not having to spend upwards of two-to-three hours of daily commuting time, many are finding a better, less stressful work life balance (fact) with the time and ability to work out more often and be healthier. (fact)
- Many teleworkers are not even given the choice to stay in the office. Recently, a major financial services company in Manhattan sent 900 non “office essential” personnel home and closed down three floors of prime and very expensive real estate. As a bonus, they now sub lease that space for a $19 million annual profit. Among the benefits they reap as a company is disaster preparedness and business continuity during man made and natural events (like 9/11, Hurricane Sandy or Snowstorm Nemo). (fact)
- Environmental organizations like the Clean Air Campaign around the world support telework as a way to reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, pollution, accidents, highway repairs and corporate carbon footprints. Companies who implement telework programs are often eligible for state and local tax breaks and incentives to support their efforts. (fact)
- This issue is so important that in December of 2010, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act that requires executive agencies to develop a telework program that allows employees to telework at least 20 percent of the hours worked in every two administrative workweeks. (fact) Perhaps you’d like to tell Mr. Obama that it’s all just a “gimmick.”
Frankly, I am shocked that any of today’s progressive corporate executives would not embrace flexible work strategies. That is so out of step with today’s changing work environment! And Marissa Mayer from Yahoo? She may have her reasons for ban working from home to help her company get back on track, but 84 of the Fortune 100 companies have formal Alternate Work Strategies which include working from home, up from four just ten years ago.
Telework may not be for everyone, but for numerous corporations and millions of workers, it is a profitable, productive, and forward thinking evolution of the traditional workplace. Take my advice, you negative nellies: Get out of the 80’s workplace. It’s a new Millennium.
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