In the business world, it's easy to make even the most promising project fail, if you want it to. All you need is cynicism and a few strategic missteps. Have someone on high at your company eager to bring Macs into the workplace? Give it the nod, then purchase old machines (how about the old 512ks?) -- and provide outsourced tech support from a country where speaking a word of English is a floggable offense. Project is killed, but hey, you tried!
I raise this point in regard to a recent article on InfoWorld by contributor Bob Lewis, titled "10 sure-fire ways to kill telecommuting." As the title suggests, Lewis lays out 10 techniques to put the kibosh on a telecommuting program. Now, Lewis takes an extreme stance in order to make a point: It's easy to get telecommuting wrong. If through laziness or ignorance or oversight your company lapses into the abysmal telecommuting practices Lewis outlines, you'll end up torturing telecommuters to the point that bumper-to-bumper traffic looks appealing. And your business will suffer for it.
I enjoyed Lewis' article and I agree wholeheartedly with his main point. Clearly, making telecommuting work requires careful planning and a concerted effort from all employees. But in focusing on how telecommuting goes wrong, Lewis fails to make the case for telecommuting -- and there's definitely a case to be made. Thus, I would like to present four reasons to give telecommuting a chance at your organization. That could mean letting employees work from home five days a week or just two days a week, depending on what makes the most sense.
1. Telecommuting can increase employee productivity. The stereotypical telecommuter lounges around at home in his or her PJs munching Cheetos while flipping between "Days of Our Lives" and reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show." In reality, however, research has found that folks who are supposed to be working from home do, in fact, work -- in some cases, more than their in-office counterparts.
For example, American Express teleworkers produce 43 percent more business than employees at the office, according to Colorado Telework Coalition. Productivity increased 31 percent among the 9,000 telecommuters in British Telecom's workforce of 80,000, according to the Telework Foundation. At JD Edwards, telecommuters are 20 to 25 percent more productive than office workers, another stat shared by the Telework Foundation.
One other notable nugget: CareGroup Health System reports that those of its medical record coders who work remotely seem more amenable to putting in overtime when necessary.