A few weeks ago, the buzz was all about the decisions made to end work-from-home programs, first from Yahoo, shortly followed by Best Buy saying goodbye to their version called ROWE. This news surely had telecommuters at corporations nationwide fearing for the security of their roles (and probably still does).
Fear not, as according to an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a recent survey shows that these type of programs will most likely be around for a while. Global firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, who conducted the survey, reports that 96 out of 120 HR executives, or eighty percent, currently offer telecommuting options in one form or another and of those that do, all but three percent do not see a change in offering this advantage to employees.
Telework Research Network estimates that, excluding those that are self-employed, an estimated 3.1 million people “considered home to be their primary place of work in 2011…up 73 percent from 2005”. This figure still only accounts for 2.5 percent of the nonfarm payroll in the United States. The network’s research also indicates “as many as 64 million US employees (just under 50 percent of the workforce) hold a job that is compatible with telework.”
Though so many employers take part in the option to work-from-home or telecommute, the majority do not have a blanket policy (less than 10 percent says Challenger). Each program is specific to the company’s ability to accommodate and overall productivity as it relates to the program, as well as a particular employee’s performance. With the right implementation, these programs can actually improve company performance by allowing a better employee work-life balance, lowering operational costs, and by increasing incentives and morale for employees.
Alternatively, like Yahoo and Best Buy, other companies have eliminated these options for varying reasons, like the inability for employees to meet face-to-face regularly, collaborating and fostering innovation. Loss of productivity, poor performance, and employee issues, can all contribute to problems with this work option. SHRM suggests that for those remaining in the office, the animosity felt towards employees allowed to telecommute could become a factor.
In the end, it doesn’t seem that Yahoo and Best Buy have started Corporate America down a path of no return as some would have us believe…not yet anyway. For now, those that find it beneficial will keep their telecommuting programs and current workers and breathe a short sigh of relief that they can live another day working at home.