Why Your IT Team Needs Telecommuting
By Mike Sherwood, Base36.com
As a technical manager, if you are against telecommuting, you're likely having nightmares of your stellar team sitting in front of the TV and napping all day, instead of getting the project out on time. Am I right? It could be what CEO Marissa Mayer was thinking when she banned telecommuting at Yahoo recently.
That's what I thought.
While these fears are understandable, they're not completely justified. There is a variety of benefits, as well as a host of preventative measures that can be taken, in order to make telecommuting work for your team. Don't believe me? Check out our list. All five of these telecommuting benefits make your organization, team, and reputation as a manager more competitive.
1. Telecommuting Opens Up the Talent Pool
If you're a technical manager in, say, Boston, but you don't allow your team to telecommute, you're left with two options during the search for a new employee, either convincing people to move to Boston, or limiting your search to people who are located in the greater Boston area.
While Boston is teeming with technical talent, the competition among organizations for the best talent is fierce, and sometimes the best person from the job may not be in the city, they may hail from Oklahoma.
By allowing your team to telecommute, you solve these problems by opening the talent pool. Convincing someone from NYC to move to Maine for a role may be a stretch, but convincing them to work that challenging technical role from the comfort of their NYC apartment is doable. Allowing for a telecommuting option ensures you find the best talent for the role, wherever they may be.
2. Telecommuting Reduces Overhead
As a tech manager, you're constantly being pressured to spend less money despite the incredible costs of the latest technology, as well as the price tag associated with the top technical talent.
By allowing for telecommuting, however, you can help to reduce these overhead costs. For example, if that new Java Developer from Alaska isn't going to be in the office, you don't need to buy them a new computer. That's a thousand dollars or more that you've saved right there alone.
Telecommuting can also help you to cut down on the percentage of your budget that is dedicated to salaries. For example, if you're a technical manager, in say, Washington, D.C., the salary for your technologists who come into the office every day is going to be high, a result of their cost of living. However, if your team is telecommuting, you can hire a person with the same talent from Montana. Their salary may be less than that of their D.C. counterparts due to the Montanans' lower cost of living.
3. Telecommuting Increases Loyalty
Even if you're strongly against telecommuting, you have to admit that there have been days you've wished that you could work from home. Now consider how often your technical employees who are pro-telecommuting are thinking that.
By giving your team the option to telecommute, your technologists will be happier and more loyal.
Without a two-hour commute to work, they'll be better able to maintain a work-life balance, spend time with their family, and spend less on commuting costs. They'll appreciate the perks associated with telecommuting, and likewise the company that gave them these perks. With telecommuting, your technologists will be more loyal to the organization, decreasing turnover and the amount of money spent on finding new talent.
4. Telecommuting Increases Productivity
One of the main reasons technical managers are against telecommuting is due to their worries about productivity levels. While the fear is understandable, studies show that this isn't the case. According to Ellen Wulfhorst's 2006 Reuters article, your average office worker is interrupted up to as many as 11 times an hour. Multiply these interruptions throughout your average eight-hour workday and you'll see how much of your time is spent dealing with phone calls, questions, and meetings. Without these interruptions, you can better focus on the tasks at hand. This is exactly why productivity levels actually increase when technologists start working from their home office, as distractions are cut from their day.
If you're still worried that your employees will be less productive, set different goals and milestones for each of them, and check that they've been met at the end of the week. This process can be aided by implementing a mandatory, weekly status report.
5. Telecommuting Decreases Interruptions
As a result of winter weather conditions (especially here in the Northeast), your organization has probably ended up closing the office early, or canceling work altogether on several occasions. The amount of progress lost during these days can cause quite a headache, especially for technical organizations that are on a tight deadline to produce software.
However, if you allow your team to telecommute, you'll decrease this sort of work disruption. Telecommuting lowers the rate of absenteeism due to things such as weather and children's sick days. Telecommuting technologists will be better able to stay on schedule during these situations, which ultimately makes you and your company successful.
With a telecommuting policy, you open up your potential talent pool, as well as decrease overhead and workplace interruptions. Furthermore, you increase employee happiness, loyalty, and productivity with a work-from-home policy. So, despite your reservations, it's time to consider removing that strict no-telecommuting policy from your department. It'll ultimately make you and your team better.
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Mike Sherwood is the founder and managing director of Base36. With over 15 years of technical consulting experience to its name, Base36 has become a leader in matching the best technical talent with Northern New England's most innovative companies. A commitment to their time-tested interview process has allowed them to place hundreds of consultants with over a 90 percent success rate. The Base36 staff is technical and highly regarded, with many clients hiring consultants based upon their screening feedback alone. For assistance finding the top technical talent for your company, give Base36 a call at 207-221-0276 or email Mike at mike_sherwood (at) base36.com.