Telecommuting: It Does a Body Good

IT professionals who telecommute rated the importance of the job perk significantly higher than non-telecommuters.

A recent survey by technical staffing portal found that those IT professionals who telecommute rated the importance of the job perk significantly higher than non-telecommuters. People who actively work from home also told us they benefited in both their personal lives and their work productivity. Stress reduction was the number one result, overall, with improvement in partner or family relations coming in a close second.

"The amount of travel time that is saved allows me to spend more time with my family," says a male systems administrator from the East Coast. "Additionally, I find that my productivity is increased by approximately 30 percent when I work from home."

Telecommuting consultant Gil Gordon is hesitant to work out telecommuting benefits mathematically, but he says most of the plusses are intangible. He prefers a four-point system to evaluate the practice: the quantity of work, the quality or work, how fast the work was done, and how many projects the telecommuter is able to juggle. Telecommuting excels at those four things, he adds.

The director of AT&T's telework program, Joseph Roitz, agrees with Gordon on the plusses, though he also says he hasn't seen valid numbers to back up that perception. He does note, however, that thousands of pilot programs by companies testing telecommuting found productivity increased 12 percent on average.

"I love it," says a female software developer from the East Coast. "Its greatest benefit has been on those days when school is closed or a child is sick. I don't have to take time off. It also allows me to get the little things done around the house."

While some might consider telecommuting as an extension of flex time, others can tie it to a type of medical or disability benefit.

"I am experiencing some significant health problems, and telecommuting makes it possible for me to continue many of the duties of my current position," says a female human resources rep from the Midwest. "While I'm not able to work full time now, my employer is very understanding of the physical limitations I have, and has made it clear that telecommuting will be a long-term option for me in the future. The ability to keep busy, even on a limited basis, has probably kept me from going insane over the past 4 months. I've developed a strong sense of loyalty towards my employer as a result of this, too."

"Telecommuting helps," says a female Web developer from the South, "and could help much more if organizations would embrace it. I was never happier or more satisfied in my career than when I was telecommuting. I miss it … a lot."

About the Author is an online career and training center for technology professionals based in Minneapolis.