Science Says Telecommuting is a Win

November 15th, 2011 in .News & Events
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Technology gives us wonderful choices, such as the ability to telecommute. Ultrabooks (ASUS Zenbook), tablets, smartphones, and other devices combined with fast Internet connections give us more choices in the way we want to work than ever before. However, technology is just one aspect – you still have to convince your boss to approve telecommuting.

There are many studies into the benefits of telecommuting, but none as scientific as the recent research conducted by Stanford University and a large Chinese travel agency with over 12,000 employees. The researchers asked employees to volunteer to participate, and 508 of 996 employees responded. Out of the 508, 255 qualified participants were chosen. A lottery was then held, which randomly assigned some employees to telecommute while others to work exclusively in the office.

The results? The group assigned to telecommute took more calls, logged more hours, and were overall more productive than the office dwellers.

  • “After a few weeks of the experiment, it was clear that the telecommuters were performing better than their counterparts in the office. They took more calls (it was quieter and there were fewer distractions at home) and worked more hours (they lost less time to late arrivals and sick breaks) and more days (fewer sick days). This translated into greater profits for the company because more calls equaled more sales. The telecommuters were also less likely to quit their jobs, which meant less turnover for the company.The company considered the experiment so successful that they implemented a wider telecommuting policy.”

Interestingly, even though productivity increased, preference for telecommuting in the employees varied.

  • “Surprisingly, only about one-half of the employees agreed to the deal, and many of those involved in the original experiment decided that they’d had enough, preferring the hours in commute in exchange for the human interaction of office life and a fixed beginning and end to each work day. The home office isn’t for everyone.”

The data may also be slightly skewed. Since the researchers asked for the employees’ participation, employees who prefer to telecommute would be more likely to volunteer compared to those who don’t. But I guess your boss doesn’t need to know that.

Check out the full Stanford University Report.

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