The dilemma of telecommuting: Is it productive?
She drives to work, gets stuck in a traffic jam. She arrives at work and needs a cup of coffee, but gets waylaid by a friend that has a love problem. Twenty minutes later, a colleague stops her to ask six questions about her current project. But, whoops, now it is time for lunch.
Those distractions, according to one estimate, add up to $1.8 trillion in lost productivity.
Some say the solution is telecommuting. What would the morning be like then? She pours her cup of coffee, lets the cat out, feeds the dog, tidies the kitchen, settles down on the patio to drink coffee, cleans up the office, runs to the corner to get a donut, answers six questions via smartphone about the current project and now it's time for the morning teleconference.
Too bad the internet connection is down.
That is the dilemma for modern worker management.
Telecommuting may decrease time in worker socializing. Is that good or bad?
Telecommuting may decrease time in unproductive work, but increase time spent on non-office activities. Is lack of oversight good or bad?
One thing is indisputable: Workers love telecommuting. A 2015 FlexJobs survey found that 30 percent of employees would take a 10 to 20 percent pay cut if it meant having more flexible work options. Studies from PGI showed that as many as 80 percent of workers had higher morale and 82 percent reported lower levels of stress when telecommuting.
Studies also show dramatic absenteeism changes. The same PGI study showed that employers had 69 percent fewer issues with absenteeism. The numbers might mean workers don't call in sick because they are healthier telecommuting. Or, the numbers might just mean sick telecommuters just don't call in sick.
Every worker might not be suited to telecommuting. According to PC Magazine, highly social workers may become bored and disillusioned with working at home. For others, the issue will be discipline since working at home requires a strict adherence to office hours, self-motivation, and perseverance.
Technology is another factor.
Successful telecommuting requires coworkers and clients to use screen sharing, webcams and meeting apps.