So, how is your commute to and from work? If you work for Yahoo or another company that has reversed its telecommunication values, you probably have a longer commute than you used to.
Despite reams/scads/loads of statistics that indicate reams/scads/loads of money saved and productivity increases, some companies either historically refuse to let their workforces work remotely or have even taken the draconian steps of rolling back their telecommuting allowances.
And it’s not just your career satisfaction that is suffering. According to a recent report published in the British journal Urban Studies, couples in which one or both partners have a lengthy work commute (greater than 45 minutes) are 40% more likely to break up than those with a lesser commute.
With Yahoo CEO Marisa Mayer leading the way, Yahoo has become the new symbol of regressive workplace policies. Instead of being viewed as progressive, the Sunnyvale, Calif. company earlier this year reversed its course as a destination for young emerging talent by rolling back the practice of mandatory office time — a major contributor to our nation’s clogged streets and highways at peak hours.
This company-wide policy shift was done in the name of “collaboration” and shortly after Mayer awarded Yahoo employees smartphones so they could “… have devices similar to our users, so we can think and work as the majority of our users do.” Mayer did later clarify her position, announcing that Yahoo employees can still work from home as long as it’s in the evening or on weekends.
Gee, thanks! Yahoo!
You, the worker, may be threatened by this recent policy shift at Yahoo, a major, technology-leading employer. If your workplace was previously skeptical about offering telecommuting, it is probably even more so now. If your employer wants ammunition to reduce or remove remote work from your work life, they have more now than ever before: If a new media technology company is doing it, what’s to stop us?
You need to stop them. If telecommuting — even if only part-time — is a viable work option, you need to arm yourself with a plan to make it happen.
Know the statistics
- Employees that work from home are more productive.
- Employees call in sick less frequently.
- Employees are happier, more engaged and less likely to leave — saving thousands in retention costs per employee per year.
- A robust remote worker policy can save a company a ton of infrastructure and real estate costs. Even the stodgy federal government has gotten religion on allowing remote work.
- Remote work expands the talent pool available to companies.
- Takes the pressure off of our major cities’ lagging traffic infrastructure.
Demonstrate how remote work benefits the company
Remote work is not a “perk” given to employees but rather a proven strategy for improving a company’s bottom line. Don’t portray remote work as a convenience for you but do explain it as a benefit for the company. You may need to be proactive in occasionally bringing up the times you connected with a remote co-worker or client outside of office hours. Make sure you can demonstrate the ROI of your electronic work efforts.
Make sure you have everything you need
Have the right technology, tools and work environment in place. Know how to deal with technology issues. You don’t have to be your own IT department, but you probably should be more than a little tech savvy. If you are often complaining of connection issues or technology barriers, your telecommuting will soon come to an end.
Skepticism of workers not on-site by on-site workers (especially management) is sky-high. Overcome that by being available more than if you were just in the office and gritting your teeth through a hellish round trip commute. Consider it “virtual” face time.
Telecommuting isn’t right for 100 percent of companies 100 percent of the time. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the type of role an employee holds in a company — does your job require you to work independently or does it depend more on open and frequent collaboration with others? Depending on your duties, your company’s culture and your own character, it may or may not be right for you. Evidence shows a balance can be achieved for those employees whose jobs and lives demand flexibility that, without it, increase the burden on workers to meet their full gamut of obligations.