Research: Telecommuters with flex time can handle 50 percent more work

Untethered workers at IBM crank out 19 more hours than nine-to-fivers before feeling work-life imbalance

Past research has demonstrated that telecommuting can boost employee morale, save companies money, and help reduce damage to the environment. It turns out that further loosening the grip on employees by granting them flexible schedules can yield a significantly higher tolerance for longer work weeks, according to a study by Brigham Young University.

According to ScienceDaily, BYU researchers studied data about 24,436 IBM employees spread among 75 countries and identified the point at which a quarter of them reported that work was interfering with their personal and home life. Office workers with fixed hours cried uncle at 38 hours per week; those with option to telecommute and make their own hours could push through 57 hours before feeling that strain.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: 10 sure-fire ways to kill telecommuting. | Keep up on green IT trends with InfoWorld's Sustainable IT blog and Green Tech newsletter. ]

Notably, according to the report, not all 57 of the work hours are spent telecommuting. Rather, employees decide which work environment best suits the duty of the day (or hour).

As a full-time telecommuter with a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule, I can relate to and appreciate the findings in the study. Being able to adjust my schedule to balance my work responsibilities (such as tracking and writing about what's going on in IT land in the wee hours) with my home and personal life (not requiring a signed form in triplicate from my manager, his manager, and HR to visit the doctor in the afternoon) is mutually beneficial.  

The one potential drawback to my work arrangement: Given the distance between my home office and InfoWorld HQ, I spend nearly all of my working hours in my house. That's certainly not a deal breaker or a significant impediment to my job. However, as experts in the field of telecommuting have noted, one of the challenges of telecommuting full-time is missing the camaraderie of coworkers. Collaboration tools such as email, IM, and the phone are great, of course, but don't fully replicate, say, those spontaneous brainstorming sessions at the water cooler.

This story, "Research: Telecommuters with flex time can handle 50 percent more work," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in green IT and read more of Ted Samson's Sustainable IT blog at InfoWorld.com.

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