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12 Reasons to Support Teleworking

The recent announcement by Yahoo!’s CEO Marissa Mayer to curb teleworking has sparked a heated debate online about the pros and cons of telework. According to the TeleworkResearchNetwork.com, there were 3.1 million teleworkers in the U.S. in 2011, and by 2016, that number is expected to reach 4.9 million. Larger companies (Yahoo! notwithstanding) are more likely to allow telecommuting than smaller ones.

Coincidentally, two studies were published in support of corporate telework programs. Staples Advantage released a survey a couple of weeks ago suggesting that teleworking benefits both employer and employees. Almost all of the employees surveyed (93%) agreed that telecommuting programs were beneficial and 75% of business decision makers noticed that employees appeared happier when allowed to telework.

And on the opposite side of the desk, just over half (53%) of businesses in the survey reported being more productive with a telecommuting program in place. Last month, Stanford University researchers published a study of a Chinese travel agency with more than 12,000 employees that found that working remotely actually increases performance. The employees were divided into two groups: those who worked from the office and those who worked remotely. After a few weeks, the remote workers had taken more calls, logged more hours and were more productive overall than the office group.

There are considerations that need to be taken into account before implementing a teleworking program. A company’s culture has to embrace the idea in order for teleworking to be successful. The biggest barriers for managers are trust and teamwork. Although 75% of managers say they trust their employees, a third confessed that they’d like to see them, just to be sure. And other managers, such as Mayer, believe that distance inhibits collaboration and working together to come up with new ideas. Telecommuters need to be self-directed and have a defined work space in their home. They need to understand that telecommuting in not a suitable replacement for daycare.

The TeleworkResearchNetwork.com has compiled a substantial number of statistics on its website in favor of allowing employees to work from home. These figures illustrate the benefits to companies as well as to the U.S., and are based on the premise of 50 million potential telecommuters working from home half-time.

Allowing Employees to Telework Half-time would:
  1. Save more than $13,000 per person.
  2. Increase productivity by more than $466 billion.
  3. Save $170 billion in real estate and related costs.
  4. Save $28 billion in absenteeism and turnover.
  5. Avoid the ‘brain drain’ effect of retiring Boomers by allowing them to work flexibly.
  6. Enable companies to recruit and retain the best people.
  7. Save 281 million barrels of oil a year—the equivalent of 46% of our Persian Gulf imports.
  8. Reduce greenhouse gases by 51 million tons/year—the equivalent of the entire New York state workforce off the roads.
  9. Reduce road travel by 91 billion miles/year thereby reducing the strain on our crumbling transportation infrastructure.
  10. Reduce road congestion and increase the productivity for non-telecommuters.
  11. Save 77,000 people from traffic-related injury or death.
  12. Reduce the offshoring of jobs and homeshore some that have already been lost.

Source: TeleworkResearchNetwork.com, The State of Telework on the U.S.: How Individuals, Business and Government Benefit, Kate Lister and Tom Harnish, June 2011.