This is the first of a series of 5 posts regarding companies and their compatibility with techie employees, aka geeks. The first topic is telecommuting, because no company can be geek-compatible if they don’t offer telecommuting to its tech employees, right? how can these companies be geek-compatible without allowing people to work remotely?
It is hard to believe that these days there are still many companies who don’t realize the great benefit telecommuting offers to their employees and to their bottom line. Some companies claim to know about the benefits of telecommuting. However, one of the main excuses is that if they allow some employees to telecommute, then it won’t be fair to other employees which responsibilities do not allow them to telecommute. Really? do they worry about this? This makes no sense to me. I think people are smart to understand that not every option such as telecommuting applies to everyone. It seems to be more of a “management” and “control” problem, Dilbert got it right!
the need for control and supervision
The problem with most companies is trust, the lack of. Employees working in positions such as software development, design and the like, are the perfect candidates for telecommuting, all employees, working in small and large companies should be given the option to telecommute, to work from home. These positions usually require little to no contact with external customers and other ways of communication with co-workers such as email, phone, and instant messaging are usually sufficient and many times even more efficient than in person.
For many companies, the idea that an employee could be productive working from home, or from anywhere for that matter, without any type of supervision is not real, it is inconceivable to companies that people could do their jobs without supervision from a place where they have no real control over the employee. For developers, designers and other professionals, having the opportunity to work from home is necessary. Most of these professionals work better when are not interrupted hundreds of times in a day. Most programmers write code (or at least try) in office environments where they don’t have control over the noise or the interruptions, and noise and interruption are a very common thing in today’s company’s work environment. A person doing this type of job will be more productive and able to accomplish more by working in a place where they can concentrate and not get interrupted.
Most companies either don’t understand this or they just don’t believe it. Many companies do not see employees as grown up human beings but as kids that have to be controlled and supervised. Great companies don’t treat their employees as kids, they trust them and allow them to set their schedules, priorities, and even the place where they want to do their job. When companies show this level of trust to their employees, they get employees that care more and are more productive than those that work in companies where every employee is under the microscope at all times. How are you treated at your current job?
If a company or a manager is concerned about the productivity of an employee working remotely, they don’t need to be. People that work in tech positions such as software engineering, UI design and the like are usually working in specific projects with deadlines, it is really easy to measure their productivity by the tasks they complete and not by the hours they work or the hours they spent at the office. Employes goofing around while working remotely are very easy to identify, and these employees are usually the same people who goof around while in the office anyways. If a company has anyone like this in their team, they can do something about them, do not penalize the rest of a team by not allowing them to work remotely because of a few bad apples.
some BENEFITS of telecommuting
People that work as developers, designers, etc, can be more productive when working from home or from a coffee shop than working at a loud, uncomfortable office where they get interrupted all the time. Of course there are exceptions, not everyone works well independently or without the social factor that an office gives you. In an office, you are around people, you can speak, you can make friends, and you can socialize. However, if you work from home and have the opportunity to set your schedule, there is always time to socialize… People who like office environments because of the social factor can always work at the office if that is what they prefer, again, everybody should have the option to do either or…we are all grown ups and should be able to decide what’s best for us and the companies we work for.
There are benefits of working from home such as not having to commute and saving money on gas, car insurance, etc… There is also the benefit of being able to spend more time with the family and be able to help with house chores. When you work from home, you end up with more time to enjoy with your family since you immediately get a couple of hours a day from not having to commute to and from work. Also, when working from home, people are usually less stressed and feel happier since they get to spend more time with their families and pets… I know I am when I work from home!
Companies that haven’t realized the benefit that telecommuting offers to them and their employees need to change their policies and start looking at ways to incorporate telecommuting as part of the company’s culture.
The Proof (yes, there are studies about this)
Cisco released the results of a study they did of about 2000 employees back in 2009 regarding telecommuting, the results showed that telecommuting significantly increases employee productivity, work-life flexibility and job satisfaction. The study results also added that increased productivity due to Telecommuting generates an estimated $277 million in annual savings for their company. Watch the video below for more details.
I hope more companies embrace telecommuting and more flexible policies for its employees. Giving your employees the option to work from home, to telecommute can increase their productivity just by the fact that they will be happier to know they are trusted. Happy employees are more productive and work better, this will be reflected on their work, making customers and your bottom line happy.