What if you never had to come into the office? Would that be a dream come true? Millions of Americans live just such a dream! They work from home (usually), connecting to the office via e-mail and the Internet. Many companies have sophisticated intranets, elaborate internal computer networks that give telecommuting employees access to customer databases and other relevant electronic data. Even meetings may take place from a distance, using Web cams, microphones, and other electronics to connect work groups. As a manager, you may meet in person with your telecommuting employees once a week, once a month, or when they or you determine such a meeting is necessary. Telecommuting also allows companies to hire or work with people whose qualifications are ideal but live too far away to come to the office every day.
The number of Americans who telecommute at least one day a week jumped from 15 million in 2000 to more than 44 million in 2006. Nearly 5 million Americans telecommute four days or more a week.
In the early days of telecommuting, employers sometimes worried that employees were not working as hard as they would were they in the office. It was a derivation of the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. But all data since supports the theory that people are more productive when they're happy in their work environments. Not having a regular commute, wearing what's comfortable rather than what's fashionable, and regulating one's own work pace are all factors that make most people happy, a key factor in job satisfaction. And job satisfaction translates to productivity.