Ever since Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, came out with her mandate regarding "returning to the office" (no more telecommuting) starting this summer, a huge debate has been restarted regarding the value of flexible work arrangements. As many have said, the timing seems odd since more and more firms have used telecommuting, and in fact, many of the companies rated among the best to work for by Fortune allow telecommuting for many of their employees. Telecommuting can take many forms, so what are some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of the practice?
THE BENEFITS OF TELECOMMUTING
For the employer:
Cost savings on offices and parking.
Travel costs (both to and from work offices, from other sites or even from home).
Lower equipment costs (when employees work at home, many of them use their own computers, phones, faxes, paper, etc.).
Relocation costs (if you are hiring new employees, you might not need to pay to relocate them).
Retention of talented employees who are trying to juggle work, family and other obligations, or who might want to work in a different location.
For the employee:
Savings of time and money because they do not have to travel to and from work.
Savings in parking fees, gas and car maintenance.
Avoiding commuting stress.
More opportunities (you are no longer tied to one location).
Greater productivity (because of fewer interruptions and more total time to work).
More flexibility managing daily life.
Less exposure to people who come to work sick.
Savings from purchasing fewer work-related clothes, shoes, accessories, etc.
THE DOWNSIDES OF TELECOMMUTING
For the employer:
Lack of oversight and the potential for employees to shirk duties.
Security concerns (not all jobs allow for sensitive work to be transferred to home computers).
Departmental morale might suffer, especially if some employees are allowed to telecommute and others are not allowed.