Now, more than ever, the question of whether or not to support a work-from-home or telecommuting environment is one that all organizations must seriously consider.
The technology exists for employees to stay interconnected while working from different locations and the appeal of telecommuting could very well help organizations attract the best talent and potentially increase productivity. Proponents also point out that long commutes are associated with poorer health and traffic congestion is a known contributor to climate change.
However, not everyone is a fan. While for some organizations telecommuting just isn’t an option, Yahoo shocked observers when it announced a ban on telecommuting, despite operating in the very industry that makes telecommuting possible.
While one of Yahoo’s largest competitors, Cisco, has found that telecommuting significantly increased employee productivity, Yahoo does have an ally in New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
“[Telecommuting is] one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard…”
– New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg responding to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo
It is possible that Mayor Bloomberg genuinely believes in the benefits of face-to-face collaboration, but it is more likely that his comments reflect a political agenda. If organizations switch to a telecommuting environment, then need for office space diminishes. As the demand for office space decreases, cities will experience decreased tax revenues and developments as well as other unfavorable economic impacts.
The question of whether or not to allow telecommuting is a complex one with strong arguments for both sides. The opportunities awarded to employees and organizations alike through technology must be carefully weighed against organizational objectives. In the end, it is up to an individual organization to decide what works best with its particular business and employees.
And my personal opinion? I’ll just say that this blog was written on a park bench on a sunny spring afternoon; you can draw your own conclusions.