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Telecommuting: Retention Strategy or Reward?

May 20, 2013 by Careerminds

The recession changed the way we work. Companies caught on quickly to the money saving tool of virtual work. Cisco jumped on this train with their workforce working from home an average of two days per week. Not only have employees thrived with their new work environment, Cisco has saved a reported $277 million per year. This incredible savings is the leading factor in why so many companies started telecommuting programs.

Additionally, from the perspective of these businesses keeping afloat during the recession, the added benefit of going green with telecommuting was a big reason that companies shifted away from the traditional workplace model. Again, using Cisco as a model, their employees stopped 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released. Cisco’s employees also saved $10.3 million in fuel costs each year by telecommuting.

The savings for companies and the reduction in greenhouse emmisions together were the leading factors in creating telecommuting options during the recession. But the economic climate has changed, and so has how we look at telecommuting. There used to be a focus on telecommuting’s money saving benefits, but the benefits for the employees force employers to consider offering it as a reward. We are now faced with the question of how to present telecommuting opportunities to our workers. Is telecommuting a strategy or a reward?

As a strategy, there are undeniable benefits for the company. Besides the money saving and green traits of telecommuting, there is also the reported boost in productivity. Of the 2,000 telecommuters surveyed:


  • 75% of respondents said their work was more timely when telecommuting
  • 83% said their ability to communicate with co-workers was the same or better than in the office
  • 67% claimed that the overall quality of their work improved.
  • 91% said telecommuting was important to their overall job satisfaction. 


Telecommuting also cuts down on unforeseeable issues like inclimate weather, family considerations and sick days. It has also been proven that offering telecommuting options has lead to higher retention rates.

Telecommuting also lends workers more time to dedicate to work. When you consider getting office-ready, commuting and travel for lunch, a lot of time is saved. It is estimated that of the time that employees save staying at home for work, they give back 60% of that to the company.

When telecommuting is presented as a reward, it is a great opportunity to use this mutually beneficial tool as an empoloyee incentive. The intrinstic work-home balance that telecommuting lends workers is considered the number one benefit of telecommuting by employees.

Following a telecommuter through a day at home, you see the benefits throughout the entire day. At the very beginning of the day they get more time to sleep, have breakfast, enjoy their coffee or get other errands accomplished before their work day begins. Commuter time and getting ready time are eliminated. And the gas that is saved on the commute adds up quite quickly at two days per week.

During the work day, telecommuters get to enjoy the more comfortable, low stress environment of their own homes. With less distraction and a quiter atmosphere, employees are far more productive.

Additionally, although telecommuting shouldn’t be intended as an alternative to childcare, there are snow days, sicks days and holidays that often keep employees from going to work. These types of unavoidable issues cut into worker’s vacations and PTO.

It’s obvious that there is a strong case for using telecommuting options as both a reward and a company strategy. Each organization is different, so which way to approach telecommuting will be different for everyone. A nice balance of using the benefits of telecommuting as incentive while using them for driving the success of the organization is the goal here. Being aware of the benefits to both the employee and the company is the key to using these mutually beneficial options optimally.



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