I’m one of those people who takes advantage of telecommuting and flexible work hours to make sure that I am as productive as possible. I’ve managed to find a pretty good balance between work and life by making adjustments to the typical 9-to-5 day to accommodate my personal needs. For example, today I went into the office around 7am so that I could leave shortly after 4pm to take care of a few personal errands. On Friday, I’ll be starting the day early again and working from home to concentrate on some projects that I can do more productively where it is quiet, while also squeezing in a couple of tech meetups that are closer to my house than the corporate office.
Despite (or maybe because of) these adjustments to my work day, I manage to meet or exceed the expectations for my job. My employer is flexible about when I work as long as I get the job done, and I occasionally pull some late nights, early mornings or do work on the weekend to make sure that I’m taking care of the community that I manage.
All of this flexibility works for me, and it looks like I’m not alone. According to a recent study by a group of researchers at Brigham Young University, people who telecommute balance work and family life better than those who work in an office, but only when flextime is also part of the plan. These researchers analyzed data from more than 24,000 IBM employees from 75 countries to find that telecommuters using flextime could work 57 hours per week before work starts to interfere with their personal lives, while the number was a paltry 38 hours per week for traditional office workers.
This isn’t just an IBM phenomenon, either. About a year ago, I looked at a Cisco study of its telecommuting employees that found:
- 69 percent of the telecommuting employees see increased productivity.
- 67 percent said that their work quality improved.
- 80 percent had an improved quality of life.
One of the biggest surprises for Cisco was that people actually spend more time working when they telecommute. This isn’t really surprising to me as I spend more time working when I telecommute. For one thing, I shave over 1.5 hours of driving time out of my daily schedule. I also tend to start work as soon as I get up around 6am and then take a little break later in the day to go for a quick run, take a shower and put on something other than my pajamas. This lets me get a jump on the work day and take a break when I need it, thus increasing my productivity while allowing me to be flexible with my time.
Smart companies should be taking a serious look at web working as a way to improve employee productivity while saving money that they would spending on extra office space. By being creative and flexible about working arrangements, both companies and employees can benefit.
How do you benefit from telecommuting and flextime without sacrificing productivity?