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Counselor Commentary: Get Real About Telecommuting

(5/2/2014)

Wake up, people. It’s 6:30 a.m. – time for a trip to the bathroom, a first cup of coffee, and the anticipation of that pothole fest you call a commute. Wait, you take the subway? Enjoy the claustrophobia. You seriously ride a bike? Good for you. Hope you liked last winter. But, come on, it’s all worth it to get to your work cubicle where you have a nice view of, well, nothing. You have lunch to look forward to, though, if you can find it in one of the smelly office refrigerators. Better have a few more cups of coffee in the afternoon – more travel fun is ahead. Oy vey.

Hey CEOs, managers and HR folks – those of you who have actual offices – think what you just read sounds lousy? Yeah, so do your employees that you insist come into the office every day. Get with it – the days of Ward Cleaver, Polaroid cameras and platform shoes are over. It’s time to do the right thing and let your employees work from home. Once a week, twice a week – at least something. Of course, this means workers might be able to sleep in another 30 minutes, actually have breakfast with their kids and save money on gas and tolls. Oh the horror.

Quit being one of those micro-managing wet blankets that pictures your staff in pajamas playing video games or watching reruns of Friends. If you can’t trust your workers, let’s be honest, you’ve got bigger problems that debating the pros and cons of telecommuting. And, if employees who work at home don’t do a good job, get rid of them. If people choose to work from home, and then goof off, they don’t deserve to work for you.

Now, telecommuting offers plenty of benefits for companies, too. An often-cited 2011 study conducted by researchers at Stanford found remote workers are 13% more productive, take fewer sick days and enjoy a more peaceful work environment than those who go into an office each day. Tech firm Cisco has reported estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by letting staffers telework. There are several other similar pro-telecommuting stats, but we don’t want to rub it in.

Telecommuting also expands the talent pool, reduces attrition and shows employees you actually value their lives outside of the office. Look – even the most successful companies can’t give employees all the perks they crave. But telecommuting is a simple chip you can push to the middle of the table – a gamble that makes sense when you have a good hand.

So what’s your hesitation? What more convincing do you need? Maybe you holdouts are big fans of Marissa Mayer. It’s true, things are looking pretty good for Yahoo lately. It’s all that newfound must-work-in-the-office collaboration, engineering innovation and, oh right, Alibaba.



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