You Too Can Telecommute.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Talent Management Perspectives

Published December 2009
Fielding Objections to Telecommuting
Katy Lynn
Telecommuting options offer strong competitive advantages to
organizations that wish to attract and retain top talent in this
changing workplace.

Telecommuting is defined as allowing an employee to work remotely
through the use of electronic connections with a central office.
Offering this as an option to employees provides the opportunity for
them to have a better work-life balance and still maintain
productivity standards.

The primary struggle lies not in implementing telecommuting, but in
convincing management teams to change. HR professionals must know how
to meet management opposition in order to gain consent for the change.
Here are some of the most common forms of resistance they may

"Workers won't be productive unless they're on-site for me to watch
them." This is one of the top reasons managers give for resisting
telecommuting. Many believe their teams are only productive with
constant supervision.

This belief is completely unfounded. Statistics show that
organizations that offered telecommuting options actually saw an
increase in productivity and a decrease in absenteeism. Working from
home gives employees easier access to their work and more time to get
it done, while still allowing them time with their families. It's best
to approach this type of opposition by implementing telecommuting on a
trial basis so productivity can be monitored; this will demonstrate
the increase in employee engagement firsthand.

"I can't manage workers unless they're on-site." Managers work hard to
establish leadership style and believe that if employees work
off-site, things will fall apart. Telecommuting would mean that
managers would have to take on the additional work of coordinating
both on-site and off-site employees.

It would be to the organization's detriment to concede this point and
risk the loss of talent for the sake of catering to a manager's
inability or unwillingness to coordinate an off-site team. HR
professionals can invest in cost-effective managerial training to
provide the necessary skills to lead an off-site team.

"Teams can't coordinate unless everyone is available on-site."
Managers recognize that employees can benefit greatly from the
knowledge and experience of more senior team members. They believe
that allowing team members to work remotely will mean sacrificing

Technology has enabled organizations to offer telecommuting options
without losing knowledge-sharing capabilities. Webcams,
videoconferencing, e-mail and podcasts are just a few of the
technologies available that allow employees to work from home and
still coordinate with team members.

The greatest fact to refute this argument is that managers have been
missing out on potential subject-matter experts by avoiding
telecommuting options. In recent surveys, organizations indicated that
telecommuting options gave them greater access to more qualified
talent that wouldn't be accessible locally.

"We can't afford to offer telecommuting options." In actuality,
organizations can't afford not to offer these options. Recent surveys
have shown that regular on-site 8-to-5 schedules are quickly becoming
antiquated. Telecommuting will become a more common practice in the
next few years, and failure to meet that change will only result in
the potential loss of top performers. Telecommuting is cost-effective
and has a positive impact on employee engagement, retention and
attraction — all of which are critical for organization success.

We live in a changing workplace, and organizations must change with it
or risk irrelevancy in this evolving market. Employee needs are
transforming quickly, and the desire for a greater work-life balance
continues to grow. HR professionals must be able to address manager
apprehension regarding telecommuting so the organization can meet
these employee ne

Katy Lynn is a PHR certified HR generalist with Harland Financial
Solutions. She is currently a student in the master of human resources
program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.


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