July 24, 2024

Binary Blogger

Are you a 1 or a 0? News, Thoughts and Reviews

The Case For Telecommuting – Blizzard Edition

4 min read

Right now as I write this post there is an official Blizzard going on outside my door. Dangerous road conditions, high winds, white out snow, and wind chills. Everything that would make a driving commute over an hour, both ways, and take away from productivity at work. With Yahoo! and Best Buy cracking down on their telecommuting/remote-worker policies that may be sending a message to others to reassess their policies as well. If you are, stop. Yahoo! and Best Buy are cracking down on their remote policies for other reasons than productivity.

Personally I am 100% for telecommuting options, not as the sole way employees work, but have the full and open option to telecommute when the need arises, like bad weather. I have worked for managers that were 100% against remote workers, “How can you be effective if you are not in the office” type of thinking and in today’s work environment is counter-productive and drives employees away in droves. I said before that’s why Yahoo! and Best Buy are making that move, to get people to leave.

From my experience telecommuting increases productivity and time employees spend working. When people can work at anytime from pretty much anywhere there is no more a hard stop 8-hour day. Allow me to work outside a time clock and I will take time and answer that email at 10pm, finish the presentation until midnight, sit on conference calls at 6am. Stick me to a clock and you get exactly that, a clock. Work/Life balance will be like the days of old, you goto work and come home leaving work at the office. In the always on connected world you can’t stop the integration of career and home life, balancing it is tough.

Telecommuting provides these benefits from a work point of view that you don’t get with anchored employees:

  • Less sick time used – If you get a nasty cold or illness you should stay home. Stop from getting the rest of the office sick. But you are not completely out of commission to do your job, so don’t take a sick day, stay home and work through the sniffles. I think over the years I have taken less than 3 true sick days and that those were when I couldn’t get out of bed. The rest of the illnesses I sat at home working on reports, emails, phone calls, etc… 
  • Productivity Increase – Allow people to work when they want and you will find they will get more done (most of the time). Sometimes you need to take a step back and get a break from things, if you are telecommuting fine, pick it back up at 8pm after the kids goto bed.
  • Improved Management – If you have good managers that know how to manage deliverables then the employees are held accountable to tighter timelines and expected higher quality of output. Who cares when you do it or how you do it. I expect X by this date and with this quality. If you miss the dates or the quality is not what I expect then it’s up to the managers then to take a look at working style and correct. 
  • Happier Employees – People don’t leave because they are sad. Flexibility is critical to happiness as long as deliverables are not missed. If you are a working parent and get that dreaded sick call from school you need to take care of your home. Hold the employees to a time clock, make them take sick time for going to take your kid or yourself to the doctor, put them into a state of fear of repercussions or having a sense of guilt for personal issues and you won’t have any employees.
Telecommuting isn’t for everybody. Individually you need to have a strong skill of self-dicipline, good organization, and time management. It’s very easy to drift when you are alone working at home. But the points I laid out above will keep that in check. I work far better at home than I do in the office. The work environment is far too social, full of unexpected distractions, and other small hiccups take away from work continuity. The type of work that I do sometimes requires a few hours of uninterrupted flows. I can’t keep things straight and orderly with taps on my shoulders or ‘quick chats’ that turn into an hour discussion.
For the most part I have been in a telecommuting environment for the past 13 years and never had an issue with it. I don’t mind pulling an all-nighter from time to time, 5am wakeup calls, step out of family dinners to deal with a call from the boss as long as the understanding is there that if I home issues pop up the door swings both ways… like a Blizzard.

End of Line.
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