However, there are some occupations that cannot be accomplished by means of alternative scheduling or location. For example, a factory employee cannot work from home and a police officer or firefighter can’t prescribe their own work schedule. Yet even with high gasoline prices and ever-crowded freeways, many employees who could take advantage of alternative provisions often don’t. A human resources department would serve its company well by encouraging telecommuting where possible as overwhelming evidence has shown that these techniques lead to greater levels of productivity and employee retention. A company wishing to create such an environment in their workplace must develop new ideas rather than what has been tried and subsequently failed in the past. The federal government, for example, has experienced typical results of most corporations. In an effort to diminish the nation’s energy consumption, improve employees’ quality of life and lower its overhead expenditures, the government introduced the option of telecommunicating to almost two million federal employees in 1990. Today, reports indicate that less than 9 percent of the eligible employees are using the telework option (Berry, 2009). Executives in the corporate world have been slow to move in this direction. Management culture is out of step, according to research psychologist Wendell Joice, Ph.D., of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Government-wide Policies, Some managers may not trust their employees to do their work. Some may just be lonely. Some may not like change (Clay, 1998). This discussion describes the pros and cons of employers offering telecommuting situations and concludes with possible methods to overcome some of the barriers that have prevented the growth of viable ways to enhance the lives of employees and improve the efficiency for employers.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Telecommuting