Telecommuting – A Simple Solution for Many Problems

telecommute.jpgWe talk about economical slow-downs, we talk about the environment, we talk about innovation, but we’re overlooking the most obvious, immediately available solution to all these problems: 

Telecommuting 

We are supposed to be operating in a global business community but we can’t let go of the cubicle, or the hours every day in highway hell.  In Canada only 10% of Canadians telework, in the U.S. it’s 15%. The average Canadian spends 288 hours every year commuting to work, the average American, 100.  

We’ll email the person sitting next to us – we’ll hear about company updates on the blog – we’ll have access to all company records through an online database – but we’re still to nervous to trust employees to work from home – even after study after study has shown that telecommuters are actually more productive then their in-house counterparts.

Many managers are still under the false impression  that employees will only work if they are being watched. Well, from the amount of chainletters that arrive via Facebook daily, I can pretty much guarantee that they’re not working while they’re being watched.  But companies like Intel, who have 50% of their 85,000 workers telecommuting, have shown hat a progressive, productive workforce is the result of happy, motivated people.  And who wouldn’t be happy and motivated, not spending entire days of their lives in their cars, not spending a small fortune in gas, and having that extra time to use for both work and fun? 

Companies that work with telecommuters are reaping the benefits, they’re saving thousands in office rent and overhead, they’re attracting a highly qualified workforce, they’re finding the right person for the job, not just the closest, and they’re keeping 10’s of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air.  

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s an excellent report from The Globe and Mail , and great resources from Innovisions Canada  .  The future, both near and far, is not going to be dominated by modular desks and matching grey carpet in concrete office towers.  Any company who’s not looking towards telecommuting, is not looking towards staying competitive.   

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7 Responses to “Telecommuting – A Simple Solution for Many Problems”

  1. Michael Shear Says:

    It is important to observe that 1) our challaeges with regard to congestion, pollution, emergency preparedness, and economic competitiveness continue to grow faster than the benefits of teleworking and 2) that work from home or hoteling is only a partial solution and has a number of shortcomings limiting the number of employees and frecquency of use. We should be exploring broader model initiatives. A more important barometer of impact might be ‘ Of Intel’s (or any other organization) 42,500 telecommuting employees, how many are ‘telecommuting today, this very day and who and where are they? (Knowing who and where is important to developing viable emergency preparedness and continuity of operations planning. That daily impact is a better indicator of what is (tele)working and what is not.

  2. TheRoyston Says:

    Hi Michael – I’d beinterested in knowing how you feel our challenges grow faster then the benefits of teleworking?

    With the technology already in place, almost any organization could send a large percentage of their workforce home to work today – and with that – congestion could be solved overnight. As for shortcomings of teleworking, the companies who are utilizing it whenever possible have been overwhelmingly happy with the results.

    As for how many of Intel’s employees are telecommuting today, the Globe and Mail article was from last week – so I would guess probably 42,500 or maybe 42,501 🙂 You should really take a look over the report, they had some excellent info from Intel, Bell and some other companies.

    It’s actually ironic if you consider how many companies depend on the internet and other technologies to sell products and services to clients they’ll never see, but they’re unwilling to use those same tools to manage their own workforce.

  3. Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson Says:

    Thank you for pointing out the many benefits of working outside the cubicle. Work is certainly not someplace you go – it’s something you do.

    As long as the work gets done, companies should tell each employee that they can do whatever they want whenever they want. Let’s start trusting the adults in our workplaces to do what’s right and reach their outcomes – without the confines of a cubicle.

    Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
    Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
    Authors of the forthcoming book “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It”

  4. TheRoyston Says:

    Thanx for your support Cali and Jody – it really all seems so simple to me, I don’t understand why some people have a problem with telecommuting

    I’ll definitely be looking out for your book – send me a note as soon as it’s out 🙂

  5. Meridith Levinson Says:

    I hope you’re right about the future of telecommuting. I work from a home office for a publishing company in the United States. I’ve been doing it for several years, after having worked in the company’s office for three of four years. I love working from home.

    Actually, for my job (I’m an online editor), I just edited an article written by a CIO who’s piloting a flexible work arrangement for his IT staff: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Telecommuting (www.cio.com/article/197800). The CIO who wrote the article used to believe that companies maximized their productivity when all their employees were on site and could meet face to face, but with rising gas costs and a competitive labor market, he’s changed his mind and has become a big proponent of telecommuting and flexible work arrangements. In the story he wrote, he explains his about face, and gives a lot of advice on the best technologies and policies for supporting flexible work arrangements and telecommuters. You and your readers might find it interesting and helpful.

  6. TheRoyston Says:

    Hey Meridith – great article – thanx much for sending it over – I made a post for it, I think everyone should give it a read – see the possibilities

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Intel no longer supports telecommuting within IT. There are a few poor managers in IT laid off several hundred of the top IT people during their last downsizing. Don’t buy their hype! I agree that telecommuting is a far more effective solution for knowledge workers, but intel just doesn’t get it.


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