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Whether or not you agree with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to cut off telecommuting for most Yahoo employees or not, it definitely brings up some interesting discussions about the real value of telecommuting and work-life balance.
Being able to work from home provides many benefits to employees, employers and the environment.
Employees often find it liberating to be able to work in their pajamas, finish small tasks around the house and spend more time with their children and spouses. Many of them are much more productive as they can avoid being dragged into unnecessary meetings, aren’t distracted by chatting coworkers or other office noises and can tailor their workspace to whatever suits them – whether that’s a bustling corner coffee shop, sitting in the car waiting for soccer practice to get out, or at a home office with music playing at full blast.
Employers like telecommuting for different reasons. They save money on everything from coffee to utility bills to commuter benefits. If enough employees work remotely, it even allows smaller office spaces and thus cheaper rent. Additionally, workplaces with flexible work schedules are seen as forward-thinking and employee-centric regardless of industry or market position.
Lastly, telecommuting reduces the time people spend in cars and other forms of transportation, ultimately benefitting the planet as a whole. Reducing exhaust emissions, especially those from long-distance commuters, is a major selling point for any company that considers itself environmentally friendly. With fewer cars on the road, those who must be there can travel faster and with less congestion-related frustration.
Telecommuting is not all positive however, there are downsides as well. For every dollar saved or minute of working time preserved, there are missed chances for spontaneous collaboration, team building and morale boosting activities.
Perhaps Ms. Mayer feels the company culture at Yahoo has devolved into a mass of conference calls and video chats, with every telecommuting employee working toward a different vision of the corporate mission. Consensus on a business’s direction can be lost on people who have to dial in to all-hands meetings and internal announcements.
Collaboration also suffers. Randomly lunching with someone from another department can’t happen when workers are miles apart. Neither can company happy hours occur online. Culture, teamwork and creativity can suffer as a result of employees being miles away from each other, only meeting in person a few times a month, if at all. Interpersonal relationships are extremely important to any successful business and telecommuting can hamper their formation and growth.
Regardless of its pros and cons, telecommuting is here to stay. As people become more specialized in their work, comfortable with virtual interaction and desiring of personal comfort, it has become a must for companies to retain key contributors and top talent throughout their many career stages and life events. Flexibility is always appreciated and workers will only want more in their future employment.
As an integrated marketing communications agency, we here at ARTÉMIA believe that the key to making telecommuting work is, of course, communication.
For a business to make telecommuting work, there are two things needed: excellent written and oral communication skills, and dependable, easy-to-use technology to enable this communication. Without these two pieces of the puzzle, hours of time can be wasted and neither employees nor management will realize it until it’s too late. No one wants to sweat over an important project only to see that effort go to waste when it turns out the client wanted to market sustainability and not sustain market share.
Interested in making telecommuting solutions work for your business or would like to learn more about our own telecommuting practices? Click the button below and let’s set up a time to chat.
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