You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Telecommuting Issues

Posted in Economics by Stacy McMahon on August 21, 2008


“With gas prices 30% higher this summer over last, telecommuting is back on everyone’s radar. According to a Computerworld story, however, IT and telecommuting don’t have a great record of success. For example, citing negative impacts on productivity, HP ended its telecommuting policy for hundreds of workers two years ago, and this year, Intel began requiring more than half the teleworkers in its IT group to report to the office at least four days a week. So before leaping, some questions you should ask as a manager if you’re considering telework include: How will you define and measure performance? Will creativity suffer? What about employees stuck in the office?”

I’ve always thought telecommuting is mainly an infrastructure problem. As a matter of policy I’m not able to work from home on any regular basis, but I have attended conference calls while weeding my garden or reviewing network configurations in my livingroom (I was out of the office for other reasons and cleared the setup with management ahead of time.) There is very little reason, though, that most people couldn’t do their jobs from Cosi with a laptop and a cell phone. It would certainly make it easier to e.g. drop off and pick up your kids from daycare, not to mention saving thousands of dollars in fuel costs, maintenance and – over time – vehicle purchases.

But, there’s the visibility problem; your boss can’t see you, and therefore wonders if you’re working. So maybe telecommuting is primarily a psychological problem…


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