2.22.11 – The Dirty Little Secret of Telework Productivity: Longer Hours

There is a growing body of research that validates what many teleworkers already know: teleworkers are as productive or even more productive than if they were working in a traditional, office-based work assignment.

  •  A March 2008 study between the Telework Exchange and the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that 87% of NSF managers felt that productivity increased or at least remained the same for their teleworkers.
  • Results from a study of Cisco employees released in 2009 revealed that the company saved an estimated $277 million in productivity by letting employees telework.  69% of surveyed employees cited higher productivity while  teleworking. 
  • 79% of teleworkers in a pilot program for the General Services Administration claimed that their productivity increased while teleworking. 

 Why are teleworkers more productive?  Simple.  They work more. 

 Because teleworkers and those with flex time options can work almost anytime, they tend to work all the time.  A recent study by Brigham Young University  found that telecommuters could work 19 more hours than office-bound workers before feeling that work was interfering with their personal life.   You can get a lot more done if you have an extra day or two in your workweek. 

 “I have a hard time turning everything off” is a common sentiment I hear from many teleworkers.  Many teleworkers are drawn to their computer throughout the evening or find themselves scrolling through their work email on their smart phones while out with their families.  In a connected global economy work never has to stop.      

The lesson for virtual leaders is clear.  Teleworkers tend to work more, not less.  That’s good for most organizations until it goes beyond reasonable levels.  Although you are getting more from your teleworkers, be careful of employee burnout.  Be cognizant of the time zones your employees work in if different than your own.  Just because you have access to them 24 hours a day doesn’t mean you should.  Ensure you understand their current workloads.  Get to know your employees to understand their personal challenges, what they can and cannot deliver.  If managed correctly, the extra 19 hours a week Brigham Young cites could pay big dividends for you and your organization.

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