March 25, 2013
New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has stirred up a hornet’s nest recently with her decision to end the company’s “work from home policy”. This controversial decision seems to fly in the face of a growing trend in this country to not only allow telecommuting but also encourage it. Forbes Magazine recently reported that 1 in 5 Americans are now conducting business at least one day a week from home. The Forbes article goes on to project that this number is expected to increase 65% over the next five years. While some of the recent negative reaction stems from expectations about how a female CEO with children should act, the controversy presents a great opportunity to examine whether off site employees can benefit your business.
The benefits of telecommuting are undeniable. In the Wall Street Journal’s recent article “More Americans are Working Remotely”, we learn that employees who work from home are more apt to work when sick, take fewer breaks throughout the day, and put in longer work days. There are also studies indicating that employees who work at home are more productive and have higher morale. American Express teleworkers handled 26% more calls and produced 43% more business according to a recent report. A study by Telework Research found that employees who work from home are twice as likely to be very satisfied with their job. Organizations promoting telecommuting have also seen significant savings in overhead expenses and an increased ability to recruit talent from across the country.
Employers who do not allow or promote work at home policies may be concerned about a lack of communication, accountability and team cohesion. Ms. Mayer cited the need for increased collaboration and creativity among Yahoo team members. While Silicon Valley is famous for offering employees a wide array of perks and “employee friendly” policies, many organizations in the Valley and throughout the country are now taking a fresh look at whether these benefits actually contribute to the organization’s bottom line.
Does adopting a “remote work” policy make sense for your company? Are there certain positions within your organization that are more conducive to working from home? Can your business reduce overhead by enabling employees to work from home? Will a “work at home” policy allow you to recruit and retain more talented employees? Most importantly, will telecommuting help your business become more profitable? These are all important questions and we can thank Yahoo’s new CEO for starting the conversation.