Telecommuting: What IT Workers Want

With the recent news that HP is tightening its policies around telecommuting, both sides of the argument have begun the debate anew.

As AllThingsD reported, HP says the new policy “…will help create a more connected workforce and drive greater collaboration and innovation.” We’ve heard this before, specifically when Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer announced an end to telecommuting at the search giant back in February. In the wake of Mayer’s announcement, we released a survey of nearly 3,300 IT workers asking how important telecommuting was to them when considering a new job offer.

IT Workers Want it Both Ways

The survey found some interesting, and seemingly contradictory, aspects of employees' views on telecommuting. When we asked, “How important to you is a remote working option when deciding whether to accept a job offer?” 75 percent of IT workers said it was at least somewhat important. However, when we also asked, In general, do you prefer to work remotely or on-site within a company?” 74 percent said on-site. Wait. What? Why would 75 percent of IT employees want a telecommuting option when nearly the same percentage prefer to work on-site? It’s craziness, right? Well, maybe not. We asked a couple of follow-up question, and here are IT employees' responses: Telestats So while the results seem a bit surprising at first, once you drill down into IT employees' reasoning, the whole telecommuting conundrum starts to get a bit clearer.

It's Nice to Be in the Office. Just Not All the Time.

IT employees actually WANT to work in an office – most of the time. They enjoy the camaraderie (take that antisocial geek stereotype!) and also appreciate the value of having face time with their managers. However, IT workers also want the option to work at home when needed. For example, telecommuting might be nice on occasion, like when you'd prefer fewer distractions, have an appointment in the middle of the day or are expecting the cable guy. Clearly, telecommuting doesn’t make sense in every company or for every job. Sometimes, there are larger business issues that preclude telecommuting as a viable option. However, there is a war right now for IT talent. The national unemployment rate for many IT specialties is extraordinarily low, around three or four percent. IT job seekers often have multiple offers on the table, and they are looking at perks like telecommuting when making their decisions. Managers and companies should keep this in mind and consider the potential recruitment and retention implications of limiting perks like telecommuting. If it’s not possible for some reason, make sure you communicate clearly the business reason why, and try to offer something else. Check out our tips for implementing a strong telecommuting program and our telecommuting infographic below.

How important is telecommuting to IT workers? How important is telecommuting to IT workers?