Some people hear “telecommuting” and think of the corresponding image.
In other words, when bosses think about employees working from home, they imagine you in your pajamas, sitting in front of the TV, "pretending" to work. Or, they think of other possible downsides, like loss of regimen or degradation of social skills.
If you’re wondering why you’re not telecommuting, it’s because these and other misplaced fears about telecommuting are frankly scaring the pants off your boss. In fact, according to a recent U.S. government report, “management resistance” was one of the top two barriers to implementation of telework programs (the other barrier was office coverage). For the record, “management resistance” is just a fancy word for “scared bosses.”
While it’s true that some folks -- myself included -- sometimes work in their pajamas at home, the rest is all a myth.
Want the real scoop?
MYTH #1: If I let my employees telecommute, they will slack off, take advantage of the company, and nothing will get done.
REALITY: Telecommuters are more productive and engaged.
Studies have shown that telecommuting actually increases employee productivity and job satisfaction. A Cisco study of nearly 2,000 employees found that the company achieved “new levels of efficiency and effectiveness” after allowing people to work remotely. Specifically, the study found that 60% of the time saved by telecommuting is spent working.
In other words, instead of spending time in the car trying not to explode from road rage, your employees are actually spending their time working. Happily.
And speaking of happiness, let’s move on to the next myth...
MYTH #2: Telecommuting will kill our office culture, and everyone will be sad and lonely. How are we supposed to meet? What will happen to our watercooler conversations?
REALITY: Telecommuters are happier -- by avoiding the daily task that is MOST injurious to happiness (read: commuting). Also, haven’t you heard of Skype or iChat?
You heard it right. According to several reports, the daily task most injurious to happiness is commuting. In fact, people who commute 23 minutes (one-way) would have to earn 19 percent more in order to be fully compensated for the costs to their well-being. Telecommuting is an easy way to avoid this giant dent in our daily happiness.
But if we all telecommute, won’t we feel isolated and lonely? There’s an easy solution for that as well. First off, you don’t have to telecommute every day. Telecommuting part-time still allows you to connect face-to-face with your team at least one day a week.
Second, telecommuting does not hamper employees’ ability to work together. The Cisco study found that 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate was the same, if not better than, it was when working on-site.
Third, if you’re willing to embrace new technology like Skype or iChat, it’s easy to connect with your coworkers even when you’re not in the same physical space.
MYTH #3: Telecommuting is expensive. I’d have to invest way too much money into new technology to make it work.
REALITY: Telecommuting saves money -- a lot of money -- in the long run, PLUS it helps save our little, warming planet.
Telecommuting might take some investment and training in new technology up front, but these costs are miniscule compared to what you’ll save. According to Stanford University’s Commuting Calculator, for each gallon of gas that you don’t use, you can keep approximately 19 pounds of harmful CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere
If that doesn’t perk your ears up, then how about this: The Telework Research Network estimates that a company could save an average of about $10,000 per employee by allowing him/her to work half-time from home. Companies save money on real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover, in addition to seeing increases in productivity.