Cisco's Take on Telecommuting and Productivity

Photo by Tim Patterson

In a recent post, I blogged about the telecommuting trend, including a data point from a WorldatWork study that found a 39 percent increase in the number of telecommuters in the U.S. between 2006 and 2008. Many businesses are actively seeking to embrace remote working, and Simon’s post on GigaOM Pro, “Enabling the Web Working Revolution” (subscription required) describes some of the other benefits and research on telecommuting.

Today, Cisco Systems released the results of its Teleworker Survey, in which the networking giant surveyed almost 2,000 of its employees to better understand the social, economic and environmental impact of telecommuting.  Here are a few highlights from the research regarding telecommuting statistics:

  • $277 million per year in estimated cost savings for Cisco and employees.
  • 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions saved by reduced travel.
  • 69 percent of the employees see increased productivity.
  • 67 percent said that their work quality improved.
  • 80 percent had an improved quality of life.
  • On average employees telecommute 2 days per week.

I talked to Rami Mazid, Cisco’s VP of Global Client Services & Operations, about the research and he said that one of the biggest surprises from the study is that people actually spend more time working when they telecommute. Of the time saved by not commuting, 60 percent was spent working more while only 40 percent of the time saved was consumed by personal activities. Mazid also described his personal use of telecommuting at Cisco. Based on his calendar and work scheduled for the day, he decides whether or not he should spend the time working from his office at Cisco or from home. Even when he goes into the office, most of his team meetings are conducted online using WebEx to accommodate employees working from other locations.

Cisco is also redesigning some of its office buildings with the remote worker in mind. Employees who work almost exclusively from home can opt out of having an on-site office altogether. The offices have areas where workers can drop in to work for a day without having an assigned space. A little over a year ago, Intel did something similar in one of its buildings in Oregon. It was a pilot office focused on open spaces and better accommodating remote workers. The company created a bank of first-come, first-serve offices for people who spend most of their time working from home, complete with storage lockers. Most employees still have permanent cubicles, but this is a great way to make better use of expensive office space when many increasingly spend little to no time in an assigned corporate space.

Cisco has several products that are designed to make it easier for people to work remotely, so it’s clear the company has an interest in encouraging telecommuting. But Cisco walks the walk in addition to talking the talk, and are seeing tangible benefits from encouraging employees to stay home.

What have you seen companies do to encourage telecommuting and support remote employees?

Image by flickr user Tim Patterson

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