I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
I worked in a cubicle for most of my time in corporate America. Those three walls could feel so confining at times, and I wished I had had the option to work from home. So many companies frown on the practice, though. In 2013, CEO Marissa Mayer even banned it at Yahoo. But I see way more pros than cons to telecommuting.
80% of employees crave flexibility, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Some workers will even sacrifice salary for the ability to work from home. When I worked in corporate America, there were definitely times when it was important to be in the office. Meetings with executive management or team members are a good example. I’d think that people with children would value the flexibility of telecommuting, too. They could save in child care costs and spend more time with their children. Winning!
Other studies have suggested that people are more productive when telecommuting. Personally, I can attest to many times I’d be at work just goofing off. If I was at home, I’d be a lot more mindful of getting my work done, since I wouldn’t want my boss to ever accuse me of loafing just because I wasn’t in the office. Also, the office can be distracting. Colleagues coming up to you to ask questions, meetings being called at the last minute, that annoying coworker that’s constantly clearing her throat due to her chain smoking (you know who you are…) can keep people from doing their work.
The argument I’ve heard against telecommuting is that it hampers innovation because there’s less collaboration. In a previous post, I wrote about why I’m absolutely useless at brainstorming meetings. I’m not good at coming up with ideas in the moment, and I’m equally terrible at contributing to others’ ideas on the spot. I don’t collaborate well unless I have time away. In other words, I’d be a better collaborator if I telecommuted.
At most of my jobs, I worked in project teams. We’d meet once a week to go over our individual progress for the projects. Wouldn’t it be ideal to set aside a day or two for all the team meetings? For instance, on Tuesdays and Fridays, I’d meet with my teams. On the other days, I could work remotely. Would innovation really suffer by implementing such an idea? Truly, when I was required to be in the office every day, I just spent a lot of time griping about why I couldn’t work from home! Probably why I don’t work in corporate America anymore…