Telecommuting: Why It Works and Why It Doesn’t

Telecommuting: Why It Works and Why It Doesn’t.

Telecommuting: Why It Works and Why It Doesn’t

With Yahoo’s! recent decision to stop telecommuting, I thought it was a good time to look at the pros and cons of telecommuting.  It is an interesting issue and one with pluses and minuses for both the employer and the employee.  While there have been studies about the effect of telecommuting on the GNP, for today’s post, I’m going to stick to the more everyday issues. telecommuting

Pros:

1.  It’s better for the environment.  Less driving means less gas usage , less pollution and less traffic accidents.

2.  Employees become more productive.  The time driving to and from work now becomes productive work time.

3.  Studies have shown that employees take less time off due to illness and have reduced stress.

4.  Less time off for personal issues.  With flexible scheduling, employees can reschedule their time accordingly.

5.  Employers can reduce or eliminate company cars, mileage reimbursements etc.

6.  Telecommuting can be an appealing for recruiting a  more robust talent pool.

7.  In the event of a disaster, employees are on home base and can continue working.

 Cons:

1.  Management can mistrust telecommuting workers and  believe they are working less.  Meetings and meeting times can also become an issue.

2.  Company culture must be in alignment with telecommuting.

3.  It’s not for everyone.  Some employees like the everyday, face-to-face environment.  Those telecommuting must be very self-directed employees.  Co-workers sometimes feel they are being taken advantage of and have to cover for telecommuters.  They are often called upon at the last minute because they are in the office.

4.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Not being in the office and seen can mean that you might be passed over for promotion.

5.  Costs can be higher.   Many companies provide computers, cell phones etc. to employees rather than depend on what the employee has at home for personal use.  Also, IT infrastructure changes may be necessary.  Employer liability for accidents in the home and the inability to monitor overtime are some legal issues to be watched.

6.  Security risks from hackers and viruses and personal use of company property is a major issue.

7.  Taxation.  In some cities, taxes are imposed on home-based workers whether they work in the city where the company is located or not.

With two-income families and long, costly commutes, telecommuting may seem like the logical answer.  It definitely has its pros and cons.  It can work well when both the company and the telecommuting employees are in synch.  But, it’s not for everyone.

Do you telecommute or do you employ telecommuters?  Let us know what you think.

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