Perhaps Yahoo! needed a reason to shake things up or test employee commitment. Marissa Mayer’s decision early last year to ban telecommuting and force everyone to work from an office may have been the right thing to do for Yahoo! but that doesn’t necessarily translate broadly. We work from home the majority of the time and for both us and our employers, it works very well.
What might have once been the realm of stay-at-home moms and part-timers, today, according to the NY Times, is full-time employment for people who average 49 years old, make $58K per year and work for companies of over 100 people. Telecommuting is very mainstream and is growing.
What the studies show
A Stanford economics professor ran a study of telecommuters, comparing them to those who work from an office and found the following:
At the end of the experiment, employers found that the home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive. They also were judged to be happier, as quitting rates were cut in half.
But those working at home were also promoted at half the rate of their colleagues working in the office.
The same study showed that many of the employees wanted to return to the office because they felt lonely or concerned about promotion. Perhaps it isn’t for everyone, but for those who can be regimented about getting things done and don’t need a strong social network every day, it can be a great alternative to wasting time and gas in commuting and the distractions of the office.
Getting the best of both worlds
But something else the study showed, and we can attest from experience, is the need to be in the office as well. There’s nothing quite like spending time collaborating and knowing people as more than a voice on the phone (no, Skype isn’t the same). That’s why we both spend time with our coworkers, making sure to cover all of the bases. This is the key — finding the balance of highly productive telecommuting and still knowing and being known by the office gang.
From the Oatmeal, a take on the downside of having your work tools around you 24 x 7.