How Effective is Telecommuting?

Earlier today, I read an article on the Harvard  Business Review stating that Marissa Mayer (Yahoo) has eliminated the option for staff to work from home. I found this article fascinating because so many technology companies have prided themselves of creating a culture of productivity that goes beyond a brick and mortar location.

This got me thinking as to how effective Telecommuting actually is.

In most of the positions that I’ve had, Telecommuting has been an option due to the nature of my role as well as the culture of the company. I found that while I occasionally appreciated the freedom to work from home when I wanted to, I was still the most productive when I was at the office. There is something about being around other working people that adds a level of engagement to your day. I also found that being able to physically walk to somebody else’s space or office was a better way to hammer out a solution to a problem as opposed to just a phone conversation.

Some of friends who work from home absolutely love it. They find that they get more done because their distractions are limited and the time they save from not having to travel to an office. They also argue that Telecommuting provides options for a workforce that is not limited by geography. I definitely agree with this statement and would definitely add that I’ve had quite a bit of success working on projects with people completely online.

With the increased use of virtual teams and Telecommuting, I’m curious as to whether this will continue to be a trend or whether companies will take Mayer’s lead and do a full assessment of the effectiveness of this work option.

What are your thoughts on Telecommuting?

I’ll leave you with this hilarious College Humor Video called “Hardly Working From Home

8 comments

  1. I really hope that Yahoo do not set a precedent with this. Working from home not only offers multiple benfits to the individual it also offers huge benefits to the company and to the environment. If businesses start to follow the Yahoo lead we can look forward to increased commuter traffic, increased energy loads on office buildings and higher waste levels.

    1. Good points here! I didn’t think about the environmental implications as well as the energy usage. I’m curious as to how long Yahoo will keep this up.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I’m of two minds when it comes to telecommuting. Certainly, when you’re having issues or are stuck on something, it’s much easier to walk to someone else’s office area on the floor to hash what’s going on. But conversely, I’ve also had great success working problems out via e-mail and on the phone.

    I think it depends on the company and the project that you’re working on…I’ve found certain situations to be more beneficial when done by telecommuting because the people you’re working with are receptive to it and don’t try to micromanage what you’re doing.

    On the other hand, I’ve also seen how you can get distracted working from home too-depending on what’s going on during the day.

    Speaking from my line of work though (ie marketing) most of what I do is at home anyway and I’ve found that I’ve been able to go at my own pace and take breaks when I need to, for health reasons and so forth. Having said that, I don’t think leaning too much either way increases productivity the way employers like to think that it does.

    -Lilian

  3. I work from home everyday, so I am biased towards that side of the argument, but it is still interesting hearing people’s reasons for not telecommuting. I have been following a discussion about this on LinkedIn. Most of the people who have joined that discussion are pro-telework, but surprisingly, some aren’t. Here is the link if you want to read some of those comments:

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=218546797&gid=3761&commentID=122883178&trk=view_disc&ut=0PXkC0IDFzuBE1

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