As our American colleagues are fond of saying, it seems a no brainer that both employers and their staff would benefit if industry more broadly adopted the virtual office and working from home.
Call it tele-commuting, virtual employment or home basing, this 21st century method of working, which has yet to catch on as a mainstream practice, makes sense from a spectrum of different directions; it saves employees commuting time, it cuts down on greenhouse gases from motor vehicles and it can potentially save enterprises considerable amounts in rental payments.
Knowledge workers, in the information technology industry in particular, would easily be able to work from home offices using the Internet to communicate and share documents and files. The proliferation of wireless technologies and feature-rich Internet applications is surely steadily creating an environment which enables IT professionals to work outside the company office, from their home studies.
A recent survey by recruitment firm Robert Half Technology supports these propositions. It even found that 48 per cent of IT employees would be willing to take a pay cut to work from home.
The researches say IT departments should facilitate greater use of teleworking if they want to retain top level staff, in an industry where shortage of good people is a continual issue.
The survey also found that IT workers are feeling overworked with 29 per cent of employees working more than 46 hours per week. However, 35 per cent often, or always, feel pressured to work additional hours.
Greater work-life balance
As reported in Computerworld, Robert Half Technology manager, Jon Chapman, said the survey findings indicate employees in the IT industry are seeking a greater balance between work and life.
Being made to work additional hours is a workplace reality. However, this could be effectively managed if employees were given the option to work from home, Chapman said in a statement.
The benefit of working in IT is that the majority of activity can be done remotely, irrespective of traditional office working hours, he said. Employers should capitalise on this and recognise that the industry is well placed to make the most of flexible working arrangements.
According to Chapman, encouraging staff to work from home could lead to greater financial gains, with telecommuting providing cost savings on office-related materials.
IT managers hesitant to implement working from home should look at implementing it on a trial basis, says Chapman, making sure there is clear communication about expectations and output.
In a separate July 2010 survey in the US, Robert Half Technology found that 34 per cent of CIOs, whose companies allow telecommuting, cited improved retention and morale through enhanced work-life balance as the greatest benefit. Increased productivity due to reduced commute time was cited by 28 per cent of respondents.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.