Telecommuting Pendulum Swinging Back In The Other Direction?

from the management-fads dept

One of the more amusing things to watch in the business world is how management fads swing back and forth like a pendulum. It appears that just as telecommuting was becoming a lot more popular, leading to buzzwords like homeshoring, some are already moving in the other direction. HP, who was one of the first big companies to promote more flexible work rules is apparently cutting back on telecommuting for their IT staff, claiming that too many people were abusing it and workers are more productive when together. This is pretty much the complete opposite of competitor Sun, which has tried to get as many people as possible to telecommute (apparently 83% of their IT staff now are telecommuters). Both approaches seem a bit extreme. Telecommuting, by itself, is neither good nor bad. It certainly can be abused -- but allowing people to work from home can have tremendous advantages as well. Rather than declaring it completely a good thing or bad thing, it would seem to make sense to have a more balanced approach that looks at the different situations of different employees to see when it makes sense and when it doesn't. Of course, a balanced approach doesn't sell well when it comes to promoting the latest management fad.

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  1. identicon
    acousticiris, 5 Jun 2006 @ 1:47pm

    Managing by numbers, not by people.

    When managers react to circumstances by looking entirely at the balance sheet, mistakes like these are made.

    With offshoring/telecommuting, managers saw the immediate cost savings of such an idea and failed to look at the people and circumstances involved.

    This is akin to deciding you're going to cut your grocery bill by taking your previous receipt and randomly crossing out items until you reach your goal. You might spend less, but that's not the goal. You can spend less by buying less food, but you'll still need to eat. Instead, researching your receipt and finding places where you can substitute choices with less expensive choices without sacrificing the over-all quality is how the problem should be approached.

    Plot out your department's productivity and set goals to improve it. Use telecommuting/offshoring as a tool to assist "where it fits" based on staff and job factors and you'll have a finer tuned department and "get more for less".
    And remember that productivity is a wholistic measurement of the quality of work, not a singular measurement of an arbitrary quantity (like lines of code, phone calls answered, or ... comments posted).

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