Is Telecommuting Dead?
Recent advancements in technology have changed the way business is done today. Incredible scheduling software programs, such as Rendezvous Enterprise, allow for things such as video conferencing, appointment booking and AV from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. With this, today there are virtual programs for nearly every industry. We are thus seeing an army of professionals, such as lawyers, writers, architects, graphic designers, etc. all working from home. How do businesses feel about this shift?
The topic of telecommuting has become a huge controversy within the corporate world. Decisions must be made as to whether or not employees will be allowed to work from home, and really, what the best business strategy is for each company. On one side of the coin, companies can save money if they can reduce office space and encourage employees to work from home. The other side of the coin poses the potential for employees to slack off without a boss physically overseeing them daily. With this, how can a company create a team environment without a centrally-located team? Although this debate is just beginning to catch wind, some companies have begun taking their stances.
Yahoo is at the forefront of the opposing end of the controversy. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Marissa Mayer, has officially banned telecommuting across the entire company. By June, employees that are currently working from home will be required to return to the office. Although Yahoo has yet to make an official statement, they do believe this to be the best option for the company now. Ironic, that one of the companies that helped invent the internet is so strongly opposed to using it. In any case, a recent release from All Things Digital may explain Mayer’s position. The argument was made that ‘water-cooler talk’ often spark creativity and is a dynamic that is missing from a home-environment. Perhaps for companies that rely heavily upon creativity and company morale, this potential for heightened creativity may not be something they are willing to sacrifice. That said, some employees, higher up in the corporate structure, do not want to stay home, because they would lose their corner office and mahogany desk. Others, however, are huge proponents of telecommuting.
For some companies, the ability to save revenue by utilizing smaller office space is reason enough to send employees home. IBM, for one, has roughly 40% of their employees based at home. Their Toronto headquarters only has 150 desks, although 500 employees are assigned to that office. As this is only one example, one can imagine the substantial savings on real estate to which this can amount. There are other benefits to telecommuting as well, such as decreasing foot-traffic in the city and keeping happier employees. If a person has a domineering boss, they are able to escape that daily stress, all-the-while being better able to balance out work and home-life. A happy employee will decrease turnover and training costs for a company long-term. Businesses that can potentially see the largest benefit from telecommuting are places where employees typically work individually, i.e. a call center. If there is no real benefit from employee interaction, why not save the money on real estate and training costs?
So what about keeping a balance? Do companies need to see the telecommuting debate as black and white, or is there room for gray? As this debate progresses, perhaps it can be concluded that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and consequently, no right or wrong way of doing things. There is no denying the technology of today enables nearly every company the option of allowing employees to be mobile, but that does not mean this would be the best option for that company. Thus, for now, the debate remains gray.
What do you think?
Luis De Souza
Chief Executive Officer
Luis Desouza is CEO of NFS Technology Group. He has a proven track record in providing solutions for major international corporates, law firms, hospitality operators and venues. Luis takes a keen interest in technological trends and how they can be applied to space utilisation and improving occupancy and uses this vision to drive the development of our solutions.