The great debate over whether or not telecommuting makes good business sense was brought up in the news this year due to Yahoo’s newest CEO, Marrisa Mayer, eliminating this work practice from the company. Some critics said she was making a mistake, while others defended her position. Whichever side of the fence you are on, the truth is that telecommuting is not going away anytime soon in the business world.

Is telecommuting a good idea for your company’s objectives? This recent event may have stirred some conversation over the water cooler.

The ideal of telecommuting, or working from home, is a hot button issue with people on either side of the view, due to figures showing how it may or may not be the right road to take. Yet, according to the Telework Research Network, 3.1 million Americans work from home full time. And this number is growing due to the increased amount of displaced workers from layoffs and government furloughs.

Good or Bad?

Telecommuting is not a new topic. It is one that’s been talked about for years. Many say that when people work from home, it encourages them to become disconnected from their peers and the corporate culture as a whole. This really depends on how ethical these employees are in the first place, and if they have the right tools to communicate and thrive in a work at home arrangement.

Others note the cost effectiveness of telecommuting is that it offers employers who no longer need to have such large office spaces. This can seriously reduce overhead and equipment costs.

Why Do It?

Telecommuters or remote workers, as they are called, come from all types of backgrounds and skill sets. They work from home for various reasons, including the following:

  • It provides a better work-life balance for many.
  • The flexibility to choose a schedule fills the needs of many.
  • It saves employers money, allowing the individual to potentially increase revenues.
  • It provides for a nice tax credit for the home office.
  • They can control who they work with, when they work, how much they earn.
  • Choice of projects they take on that can be highly rewarding.
  • It’s better for the environment because it eliminates commuting.

So, why would anyone think telecommuting is a bad thing, then? Some believe this type of work relationship does not meet all needs. For example, some management professionals believe it is too difficult to manage a workforce remotely. They believe that there are risks to databases and systems. Some believe it is too hard to track employee time on the clock. Some also say that employees become isolated and less in connection with the company itself.

Telecommuting has its place. For example, did you know that the average commute teach day is 45 minutes each way? That’s 1.5 hours that an employee could spend working. Did you know that employee productivity rises up to 20 percent when they work from home? In fact, it even allows managers to keep key employees motivated and interested in working with the company longer?

While it does not fit the needs of every industry, telecommuting is here to stay. That’s a good thing, too, since it helps to contribute to a better quality of life. Consider these factors and then make a plan to fit telecommuting into your organizational structure.

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Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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