ENG122: English Composition II
Instructor: Patricia D. Youngs, M.A., M.Ed., ELL
May 20, 2018
Since 2006, Jennifer Poe, a young professional in the FinTech industry has been telecommuting full time for the same company. Throughout the 12 years, she has personally experienced direct savings in annual gas expenses, promotions, pay increases, all while balancing a lifestyle of personal and work more efficiently. Because of this positive experience and the technology that is available to provide an environment similar to face to face interaction with video conference calls, instant messaging, email, and phone; she can efficiently get the work she needs to have done without sacrificing the amount or quality of work. Telecommuting can enhance fiscal savings, increase productivity, retain employees, and provides a satisfactory work/life balance; employers should offer to telecommute as an option because it offers flexibility for employees and benefits the environment.
It is both mutually beneficial for employer and employee to adopt a telecommute strategy as employers benefit with a highly productive workforce. From Madsen's (2011) literature review, many studies have shown a higher employee satisfaction from teleworkers versus in-office workers in result to having greater control of their work and higher loyalty to the organization. With independence comes responsibility, teleworkers that don’t have to be in an office don’t have the stress of micromanagement and with the flexibility available to workers, time is valuable therefore puts their employer at a higher value. Butler’s (2007) findings in a study with Kentucky American Water Company, “found the average productivity of telecommuters in the 13 months immediately after the “go live” period increased by 154%, while the average productivity of in-office agents fell by 13.3%” (p.102). From Jennifer Poe’s experience as a telecommuting employee, she has not only increased her knowledge but also works more efficiently and productively by working flexible hours that accommodate multiple time zones, and have advanced in her telecommuting, writing, and communication skills.
Telecommuting in the United States can save millions of tons of greenhouse gases each year, resulting in an increased quality of life economically and environmentally. “Assuming fuel efficiency of 21 miles per gallon, commuting to work using personal vehicles consumes 44 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Regarding green-house gasses, private vehicles used during commuting release 424 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year ." (Fuhr, Posciask, 2011, p.45). According to Fuhr and Posciask (2011), employees benefit from telecommuting with time and cost savings; rather than wasting time in commuter traffic, the employee can spend the extra time on other events in life, also limiting vehicle fatalities; gas and maintenance costs can save the average commuter $700 annually, along with spending less on work attire and dry cleaning. If Jennifer Poe applys the 12 years she has been commuting to the statistics that Fuhr and Posciask provided in their study, she has directly saved an estimate of $8,400 in commuter savings. With the time she would spend commuting in traffic, she can start her day earlier by responding to emails, attending conference calls, or work on projects. By ending her day early she can get household chores, and errands completed leaving her more time in her day for recreational activities or advancing her career skills by attending college.
Businesses can save thousands of dollars per year by implementing a telecommuting strategy to cut down office space and expenses without compromising productivity. Based on the article written by Greer, Buttross, and Schmelzle (2002), an anonymous globalized US-based company had an annual cost savings of $5440 per telecommuter after employing a successful telecommuting strategy. Employers not only have astronomical commercial real estate costs and property taxes, but in office, employees are expensive as furniture, equipment, telecommunications, security, and utilities. IBM introduced a telework program in 1994, “The biggest cost savings has been in real estate expenses, which IBM has cut by $100 million. Between 1996 and 2001, Big Blue downsized its facilities by 19% (including manufacturing plants), while increasing the number of workers in its facilities (including non-IBM workers such as security personnel) by 35%.” (Leung, 2002). The company Jennifer Poe is employed by reimburses for monthly office expenses and internet; also she has received tax assistance for having an at home office environment. Working from home allows for tax deductions for direct office expenses not reimbursed from her employer and a percentage of in-direct office expenses such as HOA fees, homeowners insurance, utilities, mortgage payment and interest, property tax, and general repairs and maintenance.
Employees that telecommute experience a balanced work/life balance and higher job satisfaction than in office employees resulting in higher loyalty. Caillier (2013) conducted a 2010 federal employee study that work-life benefits with telecommuting options were associated with high levels of organizational commitment. With an increase in autonomy, employers are less likely to experience high turnover by providing telework options to employees that consider telecommuting of high value. When a Spanish pharmaceutical company underwent a study, their hypothesis carries weight, “when employees feel that they can balance work and life duties, they would respond by being proud of the organization they belong. Organizational pride, in turn, would increase employees' job satisfaction." (Mas-Machuca, Berbegal-Mirabent, Alegre, 2016 p.590). Jennifer Poe’s personal example of 12 years with her employer Cox Automotive demonstrates faithfulness, she searches for promotions and career changes within the company that provide flexibility of telecommuting versus looking outside her employer.
Some may argue that it is easy for teleworkers to get distracted from their work without supervision, and lack the face to face interaction with their peers will lower job satisfaction. With productive communication channels, personality traits from a 2018 study, results show an increase of job satisfaction of individuals who telecommute. From Smith, Patmos, and Pitts (2018), the results of the study stated that there is a positive effect on telecommuters that rated a positive relationship between individuals that ranked high in openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness and negative relationships between individuals who ranked high in neuroticism and extraversion. Although telecommuting may not agree with everyone, especially those who enjoy working in a team environment or someone who needs constant affirmation, telecommuting doesn't have to be a full time 100% all or nothing option; many offices offer flexibility to come into the office one or two days a week. Job advancement in technology offer video conferences. With many communication channels to effectively communicate when outside of the office, “significant results were found between communication channel satisfaction of e-mail, video technologies, instant messaging, and phone communications and job satisfaction, such that when people are satisfied with these communication channels, they will experience greater levels of job satisfaction.” (Smith, Patmos, Pitts, 2018, p.60). Lack of in-office interaction is supplemented by using Skype for Business with weekly video conference meetings with Jennifer Poe’s manager and direct reports to distribute team projects and standings. Each direct report also includes a weekly write up of business insights, updates, and highlights that is then compiled into a department email distributed to everyone on the team. The company instant messenger system allows Jennifer to reach out to in-office employees directly without having to be there physically at the office. With multiple channels of communication this makes it easy for a telecommuter to not feel out of the loop.
As technology has advanced, it shifted the traditional work environment allowing employees to work from home or remote locations. Many companies since then has adopted telecommuting in their workforce. If a business wants to implement telecommuting, a strategy and pilot program is a successful way to work out the kinks before launching a full-fledged telecommuting workforce. If a company has lack of office space, this can be a real estate solution to the problem. Indirectly, employees that are disabled, have child care, or elder care responsibilities benefit with flexibility with a work-life balance. While telecommuting proves to be successful for both employer and employee, with fewer vehicles on the road, telecommuting is in the best interest of everyone as less traffic and cleaner air benefits everyone in society.
Butler, E. S., Aasheim, C., & Williams, S. (2007). Does telecommuting improve productivity?. Communications Of The ACM, 50(4), 101-103. doi:10.1145/1232743.1232773
Caillier, J. G. (2013). Satisfaction With Work-Life Benefits and Organizational Commitment/Job Involvement: Is There a Connection?. Review Of Public Personnel Administration, 33(4), 340. doi:10.1177/0734371X12443266
Fuhr, J. P., & Pociask, S. (2011). Broadband telecommuting: helping the U.S. environment and the economy. Low Carbon Economy, (1), 41.
Greer, Jason A., Thomas E. Buttross, and George Schmelzle. "Using telecommuting to improve the bottom line: the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. (Cash Management)." Strategic Finance Apr. 2002: 46+. Business Insights: Global. Web. 21 Apr. 2018.
Leung, L. (2002, March 25). IBM makes the most of mobility; Transforming traditional offices saved IBM $100 million in real estate costs. Network World, 21. Retrieved from http://bi.galegroup.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/global/article/GALE%7CA84191221/fbb5a2d9dd2faa203acacdc5e6ca1e26?u=ashford
Madsen, S. R. (2011). The Benefits, Challenges, and Implications of Teleworking: A Literature. Review. Culture & Religion Review Journal, 2011(1), 148-158.
Mas-Machuca, M., Berbegal-Mirabent, J., & Alegre, I. (2016). Work-life balance and its relationship with organizational pride and job satisfaction. Journal Of Managerial Psychology, 31(2), 586. doi:10.1108/JMP-09-2014-0272
Smith, S. A., Patmos, A., & Pitts, M. J. (2018). Communication and Teleworking: A Study of Communication Channel Satisfaction, Personality, and Job Satisfaction for Teleworking Employees. International Journal Of Business Communication, 55(1), 44-68. doi:10.1177/2329488415589101