"The organization of the future may not be a permanent corporation, but rather an elastic network." Thomas W. Malone and Robert J. Laubacher "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy"
Today is a trend in the world the telecommuting, in fact, the number of remote workers in the United States grew about 80% between 2005 and 2012 (Sonia Graber, Harvard Business Review).
In this article, I will not refer to the multiple benefits that workers and organizations get in terms of well-being and productivity, but to the disadvantages and risks that run in their implementation and how this work modality should be implemented to minimize them.
Let's start with the fact that not all the people and areas of the organization can access telecommuting, in this way, a first disadvantage that is glimpsed is the perception of inequity of people who for reasons of profile or activity they develop, cannot access to this benefit and therefore could feel discriminated against.
On the other hand, and given the non-presence of employees in the workplace can disconnect them from the organization, generating problems of commitment and communion with the fundamental values of the organization.
As for innovation processes, says Marissa Mayer Yahoo CEO, one of the reasons for declaring the end of teleworking in your organization was to have lost the decisions, findings, spaces of ideation and prototyping that occur in informal conversations of lobby and cafeteria. By not having a physical presence in the companies, these spaces are diminished and do not allow to be created and innovated from the exchange of ideas between the collaborators.
On the other hand, although they have been documented through serious studies, the increase in performance (+ 18% HBR), the decrease in the rotation rate (-50% HBR) and the increase in employee satisfaction, there are studies that demonstrate the sustainability of these results in the long term.
In many cases, it has also been clear that investment in infrastructure, technology, mechanisms for protection of information and control of workers has far exceeded what was achieved as a result of increased productivity and lower operating costs.
It must be considered that telecommuting has its own distractions, it is already mentioned that the main enemies of this type of work are the television and the refrigerator, but more serious, as shown in a study developed by Citrix, 25% of the collaborators admitted Having drunk while working.
I do not want to be pessimistic, I just want to open the eyes to the entrepreneurs in front of this work modality, it is not a panacea and if it is going to be implemented, it must be handled like a project, with all the rigor and anticipating the possible risks that can be run in your implementation.
Here are some recommendations that should be taken into account when deciding to implement:
The first thing to consider, is that it is not only to send employees to the house and to start work, it is necessary to adapt the workplace in terms of infrastructure and technology.
The training of leaders and collaborators in terms of distance communication, new technologies, coordination of activities, time management and building relationships of trust, will be crucial in the success of telecommuting.
A process of cultural transformation must be carried out, in which flexibility, trust, orientation to results, intra-entrepreneurship, less presence in the work place and the appropriate use of technology are favored.
Control mechanisms must be implemented to measure productivity without overburdening employees. It is important to design compensatory mechanisms that allow minimizing perceptions of inequity.
It is a key success factor to limit telecommuting, the recommendation is that in principle do not exceed two days a week.
Finally, the benefits should be documented in terms of productivity, well-being, impact on mobility and the environment; This will motivate the senior management allowing the sustainability of this work modality.
The final conclusion is that telecommuting cannot be taken as a fashion or as a panacea, as everything in the business world, will have great benefits as long as they take very seriously the risks that are going to take.
Oscar Javier Jiménez Yepes
MBA Javeriana University
Facebook: Inntegrity onestopsite
Find below the link of the Spanish version of this article