This past Thursday, Cisco released the results of a survey of 2,000 company employees that showcases the increasing benefits of teleworking. As part of its study, Cisco also said that it had generated $277 million in annual savings by allowing its employees to work from home.
The average Cisco employee now telecommutes 2 days per week. Cisco’s survey found that 75 percent of its employees surveyed said that the timeliness of their work improved when they work from home; and 69 percent of those surveyed said their productivity was higher.
The origins of teleworking, or telecommuting, date back to the early 1970s, when both terms were first introduced. Telecommuting in the early days typically meant setting up a satellite office, usually near the suburbs where the majority of employees lived. These remote offices housed expensive computer mainframe and dedicated word processing equipment, in addition to other telecommunications devices (PBX systems and fax machines).
The personal computer and faster dial-up connections helped give rise to telecommuting from home starting in the 1990s. Nevertheless, the actual percentage of employees who regularly telecommuted remained quite low, even in recent years (e.g., single digits). But this is about to change in a big way. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016 one-third of employees will spend at least part of their week working from home or other remote location.
Today, the low cost of personal computing combined with inexpensive and fast broadband options, and better and more secure remote software technologies (e.g., VPNs or virtual private networks), are breathing new life into the teleworking option. And so has the economic crisis. With companies under pressure to cut costs, many appear more willing to give teleworking a try. According to the Telework Coalition (TelCoa), companies can save $20,000 per employee on average through teleworking, including savings from office space and equipment, greater productivity, and less employee turnover.
These reasons alone should be compelling enough for your company to take a fresh look at teleworking. But frankly I think there’s a more compelling reason. Cisco’s study also found that 91 percent of its 2,000 employees believed that “telecommuting is somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction.” Eighty percent said they have an “improved quality of life” due to telecommuting. And 67 percent of respondents said that their “overall work quality improved when telecommuting.”
In short, employees are happier with their jobs when they are telecommuting. And happiness breeds improved performance and greater productivity. What other changes can you make within your company today that can yield these kind of results, while also saving the company money – and greening the environment? Nothing. Nada.
Of course, not every employee and/or position is a good candidate for telecommuting. But depending on your type of business, a sizeable portion probably would be for some level of telework. We will delve more deeply into the merits of teleworking in Part 2 of this blog in next week’s post.