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Despite Mayer’s Beliefs, Telecommuting Has Its Benefits

by Feb 26, 2013, 6:57 pm ET

In a surprising move, it was announced on Friday that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has mandated a telecommuting ban for all employees, which will go into effect this July.

As a female professional and career coach, I am shocked by this turn of events. Mayer has been an icon for millions of working women who are constantly striving to strike the right balance between their responsibilities in the home and at the office. In fact, there have been numerous articles written about Mayer’s strategy to avoid employee burnout, such as letting employees like “soccer mom Katie” leave early on certain days to attend her kids’ soccer games, and then jump back online after the kids are in bed. By the looks of this decision, it sounds like Mayer has changed her tune.

Telecommuting is not a realistic option for all employees, but when used appropriately for the right people, it can be a win-win for both employers and employees. Catering to more than 33,000 employers, TheLadders works with an array of companies that offer flexible and remote work schedules to select employees, and judging from their results, I think it would be wise for more companies to follow suit. Here are five ways companies can benefit from offering telecommuting and other work-flexibility options to their teams.

Avoid Employee Burnout

With the economy still tight, employees are continually asked to produce more with fewer resources, bringing stress levels to all-time highs. The ability to work from home and maintain a better work-life balance is one way to counteract some of this added stress and avoid employee burnout.

Reduce Costs

Employees who take advantage of flexible work schedules are typically happier, more engaged, and committed to their employers. Not only does this translate to higher retention rates and less absenteeism, but it also can increase employee referrals. Both of these arrangements can increase productivity and decrease hiring costs.

Negotiate with More Chips

While the option to work from home is not typically a deal-maker or deal-breaker, providing this type of work flexibility certainly is a selling point. This scenario can especially come into play when the perfect candidate’s bottom line is just outside the client’s approved compensation range. By negotiating more work-schedule flexibility, you are instantly offering value to the candidate in the form of reduced commuting and childcare costs.

Attract Talent

When telecommuting is an option, your available talent pool suddenly grows. This option allows employers to tap into candidates who are unwilling or unable to move locations, and appeals to those caring for an ailing relative or dealing with a disability. In addition, by offering more flexible work-scheduling to employees, your organization is instantly considered more “parent-friendly” and attractive to the population at-large.

Increase Productivity and Work Time

When employees are traveling only from the kitchen to their home office, the time to set up and begin working is greatly reduced. Time previously spent on the commute now can be converted into productive work hours.

As technology continues to advance, our world is becoming smaller and smaller. Between conferencing software like Skype and iMeet, and document-sharing services like iCloud and Dropbox, the ability to work — and perform well — as a remote team member is easier than ever before. Assuming an employee’s productivity and work output is not negatively impacted by a virtual office, offering more flexible work schedules is a great way to attract and retain talent, as well as improve morale.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Amanda. Not only is TC a good thing to offer, IT’S A REALLY BAD THING TO TAKE AWAY FROM PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAVE IT.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Kristen Fife

    Yahoo has been having issues with their remote workforce for quite a while (http://tinyurl.com/auv8mvn), and obviously this move is to manage those issues. Yahoo is defining productivity in different ways than “minutes worked” in collaboration and innovation; “cost benefit” isn’t just about electric bills and real estate footage; it’s about the synergy you get in face to face situations.

    The changes they are proposing are not unique to the SV tech culture (Facebook, Google, and Apple have the same culture), and we don’t know that it is permanent. For those employees that it doesn’t “work” for, they now have the opportunity to find something that does.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Kristen:
    1) “Yahoo has been having issues with their remote workforce for quite a while (http://tinyurl.com/auv8mvn), and obviously this move is to manage those issues.” If there are individual problems, you deal with those individually- you DON’T take away something from people who’ve not had problems with it.

    2) If you need people to see each other to collaborate, then give them multi-screen broadband, hi-def tele-presence, and if THAT isn’t sufficient (would like to see objective studies of comparisons between F2F and multi-screen broadband, hi-def tele-presence to show that it isn’t) then you plan a regular period when people are in each other’s presence to “inspire each other’s creativity.” From my experience in working with engineers, they don’t sit around all day talking to each other (I’m working in a big open area with ‘em right now); most of the time they’re ACTUALLY DOING WORK.

    3) The fact that the changes aren’t unique, doesn’t mean they’re good- as an example: when Compaq (now HP) took over Tandem in the late ’90s, they stopped the beer-busts, eliminated sabbaticals, and wouldn’t let contractors use the fitness facilities anymore.

    4) It’s not only the fact of losing something that was already there that is demoralizing- it’s the sense that arbitrarily, ANYTHING CAN BE TAKEN AWAY AT ANY TIME- WHAT’LL BE NEXT? The Yahoos who don’t care, or too scared/couldn’t easily get new jobs elsewhere won’t be a concern, but I bet there are now a fair number of very good Yahoos (who might have been quite happy and productive before) who may now be considering other options.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • http://www.namegeneration.net Namegeneration.net Candidate Leads

    @Keith +1 totally agree and anyone who has worked in one of these big tech companies can attest that most of the time these people in big open collaborative environments when you look around have earphone plugged into their head. One to drowned out the rest of the noise around them and two to make it look as if they are busy and not interested in having a convo with every person that passes by their desk. I know some people wear them and aren’t even listening to anything just to ward off unwanted conversation.

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