WFH, flexible work program, remote employment- Telecommuting has many aliases, and it has been a hot topic lately, partly because Yahoo! recently put the kibosh on it. In a statement issued via email from their HR department, Yahoo! informed telecommuters that they would no longer be able to work remotely. This was not, as I understand it, well received. Best Buy soon followed in a similar suit, as reported in CNN Money. Although Yahoo! is implementing an across the board end to telecommuting, Best Buy will still allow certain exceptions, however it is no longer up to the employee.
These corporations are largely concerned with productivity and team cohesiveness. Both Yahoo! and Best Buy have new CEO’s who are striving to turn around ailing statistics and better the bottom line. Is this the right decision? Will it encourage the togetherness they are looking for? Or are they just going to have a bunch of Bitter Bettys on their hands?
Do you need to group brainstorm to be more creative? Do you need to bounce ideas off your cubicle-buddy to be more inspired? Will collaborating face-to-face foster productivity or drive away valuable employees?
Not every position requires face time or even flourishes from it, so why do these employees need to commute to and from work? Sometimes, there are fields where the employee and the employer both benefit from the remote work access. There are certain industries where telecommuting can be beneficial, but Yahoo decided theirs wasn’t one of them. In response to the backlash, CEO Marissa Mayer stated, “This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home — this is about what is right for Yahoo, right now.”
I know several people who work from home, they are productive, dedicated and efficient. Working in the office would not yield any greater results, so why then would they need to commute? So people can watch them work? To make sure they don’t take too much time at lunch? Many employees at SLPowers are telecommuters out of necessity, and it would make no sense to bring them in-house to collaborate. I would think there must be similar positions at Yahoo! and Best Buy.
Richard Branson shared his opinion, as posted on his blog, “We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” Well, that makes sense to me.
The New York Times posted an Op-Ed in defense of telecommuting and Boston.com reviewed the telecommuting survey issued by Staples Advantage, which shows telecommuting benefits both employees and managers. If you read the myriad of surveys, statistics and reports on work from home efficiency and quality of work, it’s confounding that companies who have allowed telecommuting, want to reverse that. Makes you wonder if there is more to the story? Could data security have been an issue?
Productivity aside, what harm can working remotely cause your data, or the integrity of your company’s information and bottom line? Is your computer protected? Are you only on secure sites while logged in to data sharing portals? Do you back-up your information? Do you have the best internet security available? Eweek.com also referenced “the second annual telecommuting survey issued by Staples Advantage,” by stating that data shows “59 percent of telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system, putting critical and sensitive information at risk, and 33 percent of employees said dealing with IT issues is one of the most difficult aspects of working from home.”
SLPowers has telecommuting employees that are backed and protected by secure measures such as, two factor authentication and a centralized remote computing system like Citrix XenDesktop or VMware View. Taking the appropriate steps to protect your data and secure your hard work are as important as the level of productivity, because at the end of the day, what does it matter how productive you were if you lose everything or a hacker gets in?
Do you agree with Yahoo! and Best Buy, that collaboration has its best results when working side-by-side? Or do you think creativity and productivity are best facilitated from a telecommuting atmosphere?
–Anna van Tonder