Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do you telecommute?

This feels like a flashback, something that we were talking about in the 1970s ... ok maybe not that long ago but here we are STILL talking about this.

In the Grand Rapids Press, our local newspaper, there was an article in the business section about telecommuting. The article focused on how employees surveyed at Steelcase are concerned that telecommuting could HURT their careers.

More than 80 percent believe working away from the office increases morale for employees and reduces staff turnover.

Contrast to:

More than 70 percent of those surveyed felt their companies prefer them in the office to control the work environment and prevent a decline in productivity.

That's crazy.

My employer strongly supports 'alternative work schedule' that allows people to flex time as needed. We have core business hours that we require covered, but allow and support employees who have needs outside 8-5. Not all positions qualify for flex time but we do our best.

What the article doesn't say is who was surveyed, their roles in the organization or when the survey was conducted. I would be curious to know the gender and length of service at Steelcase too . Regardless of the holes in the story, it did serve as a good reminder to make certain that our opportunities reflect our desires. And ensure that in our practices, we don't inadvertently punish those who elect to flex.


MsPinkSlip said...

Telecommuting is fabulous for productivity (if you can be self-directed) but I do agree face time is necessary. If you are not seen, it's difficult to be heard. That can hurt promotional/growth opportunities.

HR Maven said...

I absolutely agree ... but I was surprised how many people thought it could hurt their career! That's a lot of people.

I think that it is all about communication - and doing it well!

Evil HR Lady said...

I telecommute. In fact, I exclusively telecommute now. But, getting that has taken a few years. I'm in an extremely specialized role that supports the ENTIRE US side of the company. Because we're spread out across the US, 99% of my work was done via e-mail and phone. But, there are many people that thought that even though my clients never saw me face to face, the cafeteria people better darn well see me!

I think it just takes time for things to change. Face time is good. I'm glad I have had face-to-face relationships with my department. IT makes it easier to telecommute.

I think if businesses are smart, they'll start utilizing telecommuting more often. After all it's a "Green" concept, and that's popular right now.

HR Maven said...

evil HR,

Welcome back from your vacation!

It's wonderful that you telecommute. I have done so too - here on the East Coast for my former company on the West Coast.

I hear anecdotal scenarios and have had a few successes at my current position. I still am struck by how many people at Steelcase (BIG COMPANY)thought it could hurt their careers.

I need to make sure, in policy and practice, that for those who do telecommute, they feel supported!