Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't Fear the Telecommuting

One of the big objections that I often hear about telecommuting is that it's a Pandora's Box, employee relations-wise. "If I let [this responsible person] telecommute, pretty soon all these [ESPN Online-watching slackers] will be wanting to do it, and then I'll really be in a pickle." To which I say, "Those [ESPN Online-watching slackers] are already wasting your time [watching ESPN Online]. Either people are working or they're not, irrespective of where they may be physically located. Get over it."

If you don't start a telecommuting program -- and figure out how to effectively roll it out to the multitudes without frightening managers to death -- when you really, really need people to work from wherever they are, you'll be out of luck. I think many businesses in SF are discovering this now. For example, in an article in Forbes Online, Jamie Jarvis of Adobe Systems notes:

Our telecommute program is always there and available, and we don't have to say, 'There's a disaster, so we're going to turn on this program now.'

That's the key to success: It's all sitting there, ready to go. It's regularly used by the hard-core telecommuters and the occasional parent whose kid is sick enough to stay home, but not so little or sick that it requires constant attention. IT isn't struggling to simultaneously support 100 new users who are having trouble downloading the VPN client or what have you.

So come on, let's all go home to work, if only to be prepared for natural or unnatural disaster.

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