Should you follow the Yahoo telecommute policy?
Telecommuting is all about work-life balance, higher productivity
- By Shirl L. Jenkins
- Mar 20, 2013
When Marisa Mayers, Yahoo’s CEO, declared that telecommuting is ‘dead,’ and that it’s time to ‘get employees back to Yahoo’s campus’, she sparked quite the national debate amongst human resources professionals and CEOs about the values and benefits of telecommuting.
In the age of cloud computing, broadband, and bring your own device supporting the government in the Washington region, where both the federal government and support contractors deal with the daily commute and the everlasting struggle to find a work-life balance, as they come to a halt on (pick your stoppage point on Rt. 66, I-295, I-395, or I-495), Yahoo’s CEO’s words fall short of addressing the core reasons of why telecommuting is a great tool for human capital and workforce development.
If your organization is considering a policy change, here are three key strategic considerations that every government technology contractor should be asking and evaluating.
1. Is telecommuting right for your government contracting setup?
Allowing employees to telework, whether on a routine schedule or episodic basis, leads to greater productivity, and a more engaged employee. Teleworking has many advantages to the employee, as well as to the company values. Benefits can include reducing travel time and the stress of commuting, and it provides great flexibility for employees to balance personal and professional responsibilities. As a result of our telework program, we make an impact on our clients, employees, organization, and our community.
At Intellidyne, our mission is to enable our clients to experience above and beyond service. By enabling our staff to telework, we can provide mission-critical service at any time from any location. By leveraging technology outside of the office, we can provide immediate response with the same quality service that clients enjoy from in-office staff. Our workplace flexibility program creates the greatest impact because it improves employees’ overall health and well-being.
By providing the flexibility and work-life balance, they are able to meet their personal responsibilities and family obligations, as well as pursue their professional and educational goals. In addition, teleworkers will experience a financial savings associated with a reduction in cost for commuting, dry-cleaning, and clothing. In our 2012 employee survey, 90 percent of employees indicated that they are able to satisfy their responsibilities both at home and work, and 91 percent of our employees indicated that IntelliDyne allows them to have work life balance.
I personally have been able to focus on analysis-intensive projects without the interruptions that can accompany working in the office; however, this can be a challenge in the federal contracting space, as employees need to be in close proximity with the client. At the end of the day, we are judged on high-quality productive work, not on “being seen.”
2. What are the qualifiers and disqualifiers for having an effective telecommuting HR policy?
Some of these factors include: whether the job task is easily quantifiable and/or primarily project-oriented; whether an employee’s participation in the telework program will adversely affect the workload of other employees or clients; the level of job contact with other employees and clients, and whether that level of contact is predictable and can be accommodated; would the employee have the access to technology and equipment needed to perform the full scope of duties offsite? Can the employee’s materials be transported from the workplace, considering that classified materials cannot be removed from the worksite?
3. What impact will telecommuting have on the future of recruiting Millennials and next gen of recruits in IT?
It is going to be interesting to see how companies adjust to hiring Millennials and beyond. Millennials want exciting work, without someone looking over their shoulder. They are excellent at multi-tasking. I have witnessed this first hand – they’re doing homework, playing Xbox or PlayStation, and texting with friends, while engaging in a conversation on why they are not distracted. They definitely prefer to communicate electronically versus face-to-face. They don’t even use the phone for its original purpose, talking. It is primarily for texting and social media. In my opinion, they will definitely not want to come into the traditional brick and mortar offices.
From an HR perspective, it’s important to meet the expectations of Millennials, as they will be a significant component to our workforce going forward. We have to maintain our award winning position as one of the region’s best places to work. By enabling these employees to work outside their central work location, we can reduce costs associated with recruitment, retention, training and real estate, and even enable our business to maintain continuity during emergency situations. The benefits of telecommuting will enable us to increase employee productivity, accommodate identified disabilities and allow for greater flexibility in work schedules – not only for Millennials, but for all members of the IntelliDyne team, at all levels. In addition, we all know how bad traffic can be in our area. Our community can enjoy fewer cars on the road, which will result in a reduction of dependence on oil and a cleaner and healthier environment.
Shirl L. Jenkins is the vice president of human resources management and operations at IntelliDyne LLC. She is a former vice president of human resources at SRA International.