Don't HR Alone #52 - Telecommuting Myths, and Wellness ROI

Did Yahoo End a Telecommuting Trend in 2013?

In early 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer changed a policy that rocked the company’s happy nerd culture. She banned telecommuting, the popular practice that allowed employees to work from home or another remote location outside of the Yahoo offices. The official Yahoo memo from HR head Jackie Reses stated that, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Although less than 2% of the company’s 12,000 employees were full-time telecommuters when the memo was published, many had arrangements that allowed them to work from home one or more days a week. In March 2017, IBM followed suit and rescinded its long-standing work-from-home policy in an effort to foster more collaboration.

Is telecommuting a thing of the past? Does it mean an end to collaboration and culture if employees aren’t in an office together? Not necessarily. Numbers don’t lie According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, telecommuting is on the rise with a 115% growth in the past decade. In fact, many well-known companies offer remote jobs. Although plenty of sources cite millennials as the driving force behind telecommuting policies, half of telecommuters are 45 or older and most are in management positions. So, Yahoo and IBM did not start an in-office only trend. But employers may still be hesitant to allow telecommuting for a variety of reasons. Busting a myth: productivity One fear employers may have about allowing employees to telecommute is the fear that employees will be less productive working outside of the office. The truth is, study after study finds the opposite is the case. Without the distractions of an office environment, remote workers are more efficient and productive and have lower rates of absenteeism. And, without the hassle of a commute, remote workers experience less stress. Busting a myth: job satisfaction Employers may also have concern that remote employees won’t feel connected to the company and its culture. In fact, one study found that remote employees reported higher morale than in-office workers. With high job satisfaction and regard for their employer’s flexibility, remote workers are more likely to stay in their jobs, too. With the variety of means available to boost connection and engagement—from Skype to social media—it’s easier than ever for remote workers to stay connected to their colleagues and collaborate from afar. Money talks Both employers and employees save money when employees telecommute. Full-time telecommuters save an average of $4,000 per year in commute e