Is Telecommuting on the Way Out?

Recent announcements from Yahoo! and Best Buy that they are eliminating their telecommuting programs and requiring all workers to be present in an office have many organizations questioning their telecommuting benefits too. Conversely, workers fear an end to a benefit to which they have become accustomed. Is telecommuting the right choice for employers? The answer seems to be “it depends.”

In a recent MSEC survey, 62 percent of responding Colorado employers say they allow employees to work off-site, but not on a regular basis. Thirty-two percent said they allow regular off-site work arrangements. While there are direct benefits to employees, like saving on gas, avoiding commute time, and walking the dog at lunch, the work-at-home arrangement must be mutually beneficial and productive.  

Successful telecommuting is about creating an understanding between employer and employee about getting the work done. There should be agreed upon deliverables, and employers need to hold remote employees accountable for those deliverables just like any in-office workers. Communicate with remote workers more, not less, than you would in a traditional setting. As much as you can, keep the telecommuters involved in the office culture, including meetings, trainings, office outings, and teamwork exercises. And, know that telecommuting is not for everyone. Some jobs just aren’t right for it, and some employees just aren’t able to do it. Define for the company which positions are eligible for remote working and when.