Sep 5 2009

Why should(n’t) companies embrace a telecommuting strategy.

I started to think, why there are still many companies not going into a telecommuting strategy, when everyone talks about lack of technological local knowledge.I could think of a dozen of reasons on why would companies embrace on telecommuting strategies, we can start on reducing our carbon footprint, passing by increase employees quality of live ending on getting the best specialists anywhere in the world. Although as always there are some dangers embracing a telecommuting strategy, i will try to explain both pro’s and con’s, in my personal opinion.

Companies should embrace a telecommuting strategy because:

1. Company should demand goals to employee not office hours

Company employees should be handled as adults, like they are, and they should be responsible to manage their own 24 hours of the day, targeting to attain company proposed goals instead of targeting to be 8/10 hours per day in a office.

2. Decrease office costs

Having employees working out of the office, the company needs in terms of space, energy costs or rental budget will decrease.

3. Decrease dependency on local expertise

Looking into the whole world as a probable hiring market will increase the company workers knowledge, increase the probability of having the best workers coming along. As opposite to have a small local prospecting and limited knowledge market.

4. Increase employees level of life

Giving the possibility to the worker manage their own time, will increase the employee level of life, commuting time on the begin and end of each day takes a huge amount of person energy. This energy will start to be applied into daily work tasks.

5. Became global and open the office 24/7

Accepting a telecommuting strategy, you will end on having employees on every corner of the globe, meaning that you will have the office open 24/7h.

6. Improve internal processes and documentation

Having a telecommute strategy makes the company to impose himself internal strict processes, as meeting schedule, documentation process, and others.

Although companies when embracing a telecommuting strategy should be careful with the dangers of:

1. Loose of human interaction

Lack of a constant office hours, and having all the company teams together will imply the loose of human interaction, loosing some of the daily discussions or over the coffee ideas.

2. Harder to measure employee work

Lack of physical presence by the employee will increase the need of strict metrics or goals definition, in order to be able to measure the employee productivity.

3. IT becomes more important than never

With lots of remote workers, company IT need to be more failure proof, security should be increased on internal networks, VPN is indispensable and systems should never be off-line.

Some interesting links about telecommuting:

2 comments on “Why should(n’t) companies embrace a telecommuting strategy.

  1. Hi Jose,

    Just a few notes…

    While I agree on the majority of what you said I still have a few doubts about should’s 1) and 4)

    1) I agree but the problem is that companies work by the hour, charge by the hour and wouldn’t be too happy to find that while at home you just take 2h to do that 10h office job. So this could increase the work payload or lead to employees lying about hours.

    4) It is my understanding that when people have the "benefit" of "adjust your own time" the shit always hits the fan. People can’t manage themselves (usually) although everybody will say "yes I can!" (usually …)

    My point being that from my professional experience that would only work on a "here and there" basis but not on a regular basis. There are companies in Portugal who toy with the idea (you work @home one day a week) but I don’t know of a single company doing that (again … in Portugal) full time with all employees. Is there any? :)

    Just my two cents … :)

  2. Amen! :o)

    It’s actually harder then one thinks to manage a "goal oriented schedule" BUT, there is no doubt there are enormous benefits in treating the worker as a responsible human being.

    The truth is goals are measurable and if the worker doesn’t deliver it’s time to hire someone else!

    Unfortunately not many Portuguese companies understand this.

    We’re so narrow minded here in Portugal that most CEOs associate not having schedules with not working.

    Still, working at the office makes for an easier career progression (which is also sad) :o)

    Best,
    Luis

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