Telework’s Future (Non-Yahoo! Edition)

Much has been already made of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to end the company’s telework option, thereby bringing all its workers back under the same roof.

According to a memo announcing the change, Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s director of human resources, says the decision was made with an eye toward innovation and collaboration:

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

While the response has been largely negative, at least one expert says Mayer made the right call on ending telework at the Internet giant.

Ben Waber is president and CEO of Sociometric Solutions and author of the forthcoming book, “People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work.”

He’s also a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab, where his research using sensor and digital communication data and analyzing results gives an unprecedented understanding of how your people work and collaborate.

He argues that working on site is more productive, and Yahoo! has it right:

 ”There’s a big difference between telecommuting occasionally and working from home every day of the year. Occasional telecommuting allows people to deal with one-time events and promotes a less stressful work environment.  Remote work, however, means that you lack a social connection to your colleagues.  In general, this relates to lower job satisfaction for the entire company, higher turnover, and lower productivity.”

But, while telework may no longer be an option at Yahoo!, there are plenty of other organizations heading in the opposite direction, according to a new survey from Genesis Research Associates and oDesk.com. It finds 58 percent of businesses surveyed “plan to double their budgets for online workers” in 2013 versus 2012.

According to the study conducted by Genesis Research Associates, businesses are reaping significant value by staffing part-time and full-time virtual team members.  94% of businesses surveyed agree that within the next decade, the majority of businesses will use “blended teams”, consisting of both online and on-premise workers.  In general, companies find hiring online workers to be much easier and less stressful than hiring “traditional” on-site employees.  The study found that hiring an online worker only takes 2.8 days (median) versus 23.9 days for an on-premise worker.  In addition, employers state that hiring an on-premise worker is 68% more stressful than hiring online workers.

Full results here.

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