The Case Against Telecommuting


An exec makes his case against telecommuting: "But if someone in the Missoula, Mont., office wants to work from home without a very good reason, I have a simple answer: No. And if we're hiring, we prefer to recruit people who can come into the office every day, even if the job could be done from anywhere."

I don't disagree with him about the benefits of face time. But it's not really an all-or-nothing question -- people can work remotely sometimes, and come to the office at other times. Some tasks may be done more efficiently off-site.

As this survey showed, a lot of workers are asking for some flexibility -- and a lot of bosses are just saying no.

That kind of management-by-decree would seem likely to undo a lot of the benefits of face time and camaraderie, wouldn't it?


11 Comments for "The Case Against Telecommuting"

  • Mattia August 27, 2013 7:52 am

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  • Morgan August 09, 2009 9:37 pm

    This Exec is a perfect example of what a company should NOT look for in an Executive - someone who is incapable of looking at the facts of a situation and making a balanced judgement based on what is best for the business. He is clearly incapable of sound business judgement over what he wants personally in the work environment, and for that, he should resign. It is true that tele-commuting is not suitable for all workers but limiting everyone because some have a job that cannot be done that way is ludicrous and narrow-minded.

  • Bill Wood August 06, 2009 10:36 am

    We practice agile and have a high productivity rate across a global team. We implemented something we call "swarm agile" in '08 with the notion that North American team members were given the option of "swarming out", working at home or a third place, a portion of each week. Currently 80% of our team "swarms out" with the average time out of office being roughly 50% of each work week. We have collected velocity metrics on each of our teams for years, so we have a good base to compare impact of policy changes on quality and the speed of rending functionality to the market. A review of the numbers indicate that with the implementation of swarm agile our productivity increased between 10 to 20% with no impact on quality. Our team members were appreciative of savings in commute time and gave a portion of that back to getting product out and, in certain situations, able to work longer "in flow", necessary for good production, when working in their offices . So, being a bottom-line manager, getting the best from a team for dollar spent, I'd say telecommuting is a win-win, works for the individual in enriching balance of life with less time spent on freeways and it yields more functionality to market.

  • Tony Kontzer June 25, 2009 1:44 pm

    I have to agree with Phil's point that the type of job you have is critical. I've telecommuted since 1996, including 6 years on staff at a magazine, and I've been a happier, more productive, more balanced worker because of it. But clearly, there are many industries--law enforcement, healthcare, retail--where telecommuting doesn't make much sense. There's also the little matter of the person in question. Working at home is not for every personality. I consider myself a great fit for telecommuting--an independent creative professional who works mostly alone, values a flexible lifestyle, and enjoys being at home. And even for me, self-discipline can be a challenge. The temptations of home projects, exercise, playing with my son, or just general goofing off are ever-present. Not to mention that, as a gregarious type, I often long for the social aspects of being in an office with my colleagues. But in all, being given the gift of working at home has been the single best development of my career--and my most powerful argument in favor of the Internet's existence. Getting back to this executive, I think he may be missing a huge consideration--that his "just say no" telecommuting stance could be causing him to pass on potentially great employees. I know that in my case, if I were to think about taking a real job, the ability to telecommute at least some portion of the time would be an absolute requirement. In other words, I'd "just say no" to working for this guy. And I may be biased in this case, but I believe that would be his loss. Tony Kontzer

  • Lee June 17, 2009 11:38 am

    On the way from all-office to all-home working (7 years ago), I went through 1, 2 ,3 and 4 days at home. They were all worse than working full-time from home or full-time at the office. Papers were in the wrong place, my schedule (and head) was a mess, and the people I needed to talk to were always on a different schedule, so we lost most of the benefits of our ever being there.

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