This week, controversy raged when the story broke that Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, released a memo telling all Telecommuting employees they would be required to work in the Yahoo! offices or quit their jobs. This sparked outrage from defenders of Telecommuting who showed how passionately this work shift has been embraced over the last 20 years, as well as how effectively they are able to connect, collaborate and communicate with their counterparts using advances in technology that are readily available today. The discussion continues in the major media.
The Yahoo! memo included the following reasons:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with physically being together.”
While we at KBZ do not wish to comment on other companies’ policies, we do feel that citing Telecommuting as a hindrance to collaboration and productivity is misdirected – here are some of the many benefits of Telecommuting.
1. Increased productivity
Video conferencing, TelePresence and Unified Communications solutions allow employees in just about any job role to very effectively collaborate, as if they were sitting side-by-side in the same room.
At KBZ, my colleagues and I – located in cities around the U.S. – hold all of our meetings using video conferencing. We conduct marketing brainstorming sessions, sales strategy meetings, customer and partner meetings, and routine daily check-ins over video. Throughout our day, we’re constantly in touch over IM, video, email and sometimes even the old-fashioned way…over a mobile device. Here we are meeting in our virtual conference room:
Effective and regular collaboration and communication are the keys to our success. Team members are just the click of a mouse or the tap of a tablet away — the virtual equivalent of popping your head in the office door. We can hold an impromptu meeting by quickly checking to see if the people needed are online then adding them to a video conference call – much better than having to pack up our laptops and relocate to a central meeting space or conference room. It’s a fast, easy and highly effective way to get things done.
A Stanford University Report, “Does Working from Home Work?”, reported that in an experiment with call center employees, “Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick-days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment).”
Innovative, successful companies like Cisco, who report that 89% of their global workforce telecommute at least once a week, measure productivity in a number of ways - see this blog by Sheila Jordan, Cisco’s SVP Communication and Collaboration IT. Cisco recognizes that diversity and flexibility give them a distinct competitive advantage. They have embraced the rising Telecommuting trend and continue to develop innovative technologies such as Cisco WebEx, Cisco Jabber and Cisco TelePresence that empower organizations to successfully engage anywhere, anytime.
2. Business as usual in extreme weather
While Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc last fall and as several severe winter storms have crippled major cities in recent weeks, Telecommuters who only need to make it as far as their desks can continue to work – and be productive.
“Teleworking (or telecommuting) is a popular solution that allows continuity of operations (COOP) while keeping employees out of harm’s way during natural disasters. In contrast to the Yahoo announcement today, many agencies, organizations and teams rely on telework to keep employee productivity high regardless of weather, travel delays or other conditions,” writes Kerry Best, Public Sector Marketing Manager for Cisco, in this blog.
Here is a Tweet from Brian Ricca, KBZ Regional Director North:
@brianricca Oct 29, 2012, 5:00am via Twitter for iPhone
“Commuting to work in #sandy means never leaving my house with #cisco #telepresence @KBZcom”
3. Flexibility and effectiveness
Innovation and creativity thrive when people have the flexibility to work from the location that is most effective for them, be that an office or collaborative work space, at home or the local coffee shop. According to the 2010 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, “two-thirds of participants surveyed stated that they would choose work-location flexibility over a higher salary.” In another study reported in the Journal of Consumer Research, “doing your work in a coffee shop setting can actually improve your creativity.” http://news.menshealth.com/work-in-coffee-shops/2012/04/06/#sthash.AC0Q4omC.dpuf
In terms of teamwork, here at KBZ we use video daily and even have entertaining events across video just as we would in person. Brian Ricca hosts Fun Music Fridays, getting his whole team on a conference call and playing music to wind down the week. We also have a Fantasy Football League, and hold the drafts over video – see “Video-Enabled Collaboration: We’re not in the Conference Room Anymore.”
With Telecommuting, employees have greater flexibility and choice on where to live which can mean a better standard of living, and families with small children can be closer to daycares and schools. When employees have work-life balance, they are also happier, more loyal and more productive.
4. Freedom to recruit top talent based on skill not location
Telecommuting doesn’t just benefit employees. Employers today have a limitless pool of top talent to choose from, once the geographic restrictions of reporting into a traditional office are removed. No longer are they limited to consider only the candidates who live in close proximity, or those who are willing to relocate. Instead, they can focus on the most qualified candidates. This opens up a world of recruiting possibilities. Further, employers who embrace mobile workforces are also more attractive to potential candidates.
5. Saves time
Telecommuting saves the time associated with commuting to an office every day. Imagine if you could gain an extra hour, or two, in your day. What would you use that time for? You could do more work, work out, spend more time with your family, or any number of other things.
6. Saves money
Irene Sandler of Cisco reports in “How much does telecommuting save, anyway? (Hint: LOTS)” asks, “Did you know that 44% of knowledge workers telecommute at least one day a week? And that this one day a week alone saves companies $2,400 a year per employee?” These savings are from reduced costs for real estate, infrastructure, electrical, HVAC, etc.
If your company had 1000 employees who telecommuted at least one day a week for a year that would be a savings of $2.4 million!
7. Reduces carbon emissions
Telecommuting workers use their cars less which can not only decrease their expenses – when workers aren’t using their car they are also decreasing their carbon footprint, and that’s good for the environment. The Mobile Work Exchange, a public-private partnership serving the Federal mobile/telework community, found that during Telework Week 2012 participants (94% of which were Federal government employees) saved a total of 6,413,006 miles; 251,774 hours; 3,453 tons of pollutants; and collectively saved $5.6 million by not commuting for one week. Telework Week 2013 is set to kick off next week, March 4 – 8, 2013.
8. Less stress, better health
Commuting is stressful and the increased stress caused by long commute times can lead to a decrease in productivity and higher health care costs. Telecommuters also report eating better when working from home, with access to fresh food in the fridge instead of the food court. Overall, less stress equals better health.
It’s all about you
Work is not about where you do it. Whether you Telecommute and do it from a home office, or you commute into a traditional office, it’s still about the value you deliver. Advances in technology enable you to be effective anywhere, anytime and across practically any device. The line from the Cisco Work-Life Innovation Report we cited in our last blog is worth repeating: “Work is what you do, not where it is done.”
If you’re a Telecommuter, what are the most important benefits of Telecommuting for you? Share your story below or visit our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/KBZCommunications
Veronica Culver is the Director of Corporate Marketing at KBZ, responsible for all corporate and partner communications, PR, social media, digital marketing, website management, and webinars. She’s also a food blogger and photographer. Connect with her on Twitter: @VeronicaCulver