Organizational Traits that Can Help a Firm Better Support Telecommuters

I started to write a comment on a recent CFO.com article about telecommuting and ended up liking the comment so much that I decided to share it here as a post.  Although it focuses primarily on the concept of telecommuting in an organization, it aligns with the corporate real estate concept of workplace integration.  By understanding how employees use (or don’t use) office space, the corporate real estate executive can better plan for efficient space use that complements the workforce’s actual space needs, potentially saving a lot on overall occupancy costs.

During my recent working years, I have had the privilege of working at two firms that provided flexible work experiences.  At the first, I traveled roughly two weeks of every month and was never expected to be in the office when I was actually in my home city.  In my current job, most of my work involves visiting clients and traveling within the city of Chicago, leaving a fair amount of time that I can choose to work in the office or at home.

From my experiences, I’ve found that there are personality traits and organizational traits that help ensure productivity when working from home (or anywhere else out of the office).  The employee must truly understand their work objectives and have a clear sense of what they need to do in order to meet these goals.  Additionally, they must have an internal drive to accomplish these very goals.  The organization, on the other hand, requires two key attributes.  First, if the IT department already supports mobile workers, the infrastructure – e.g. remote access to email and other collaboration tools – will be in place to support home-based or “dial-in” workers.  Second, the other employees need to be understanding if not embracing of this concept.  There is no worse barricade to effective virtual teaming than trying to collaborate with colleagues that resent your flexibility.

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