According to Computerworld’s Annual Salary Survey, teleworking (telecommuting, e- working, or work shifting) consistently ranks in the top five job priorities for job seekers. Teleworking opportunities for the average worker have been on the rise and trending upward for IT professionals. According to a study by the Telework Research Network, telecommuting has increased by 57% from 2005 to 2012. The progress of technology and infrastructure has obviously helped make this possible (i.e. IM, mobile, web applications, collaboration tools, VPN, Skype, web conferencing, etc). While IT has helped bring down the technology barriers to make teleworking possible, some IT organizations have been slow to change their teleworking policies. However, the needle is moving. With the infrastructure in place and available, this decision is now more of a managerial, cultural, or procedural change for organizations to accept and adopt. Companies that have never offered teleworking before are now considering options in an effort to be more competitive and attractive to top tier talent.
I recently had a conversation with a client about a developer we placed on his team. Although requested initially, working virtual had never been an option for this particular client due to a long standing company policy. The development staff was required to be on site, period. Not being a deal breaker, our consultant began the project commuting over an hour each way, five days a week. After proving himself through a period of high level of performance, he revisited this with his manager and was given approval to work remotely. This consultant now telecommutes three days out of five, reducing his commute time by eight hours a week. Although a paradigm shift from past policy, our client could not be happier with the arrangement and performance levels and feels this particular developer is actually more efficient and productive on the days he is away from the office. Obviously, this is only one example and not all situations are the same. Some IT positions will always require on-site collaboration and/or have a hands-on component to daily duties required. Employee self-discipline and work ethic come into play, as well, as some are just not wired for it. With the move to globalization, cloud, co-location, opportunities to telecommute will continue to become more prevalent in the IT space. From both the employee and employer perspective, workforce flexibility presents a strong value proposition. For the right employee/employer relationship, the benefits can be huge. Take a look at this article from Global Workforce Analytics outlining some advantages. The figures may surprise you.