Companies that allow or encourage their employees to telecommuterather than come to the office are more interested in maintaining a happy workforce than achieving any direct cost savings, experts and corporate executives say.
CiscoSystems ,with 65,000 employees in 92 countries, has saved $1 billion in the past 2.5 years through video conferencing, but the real payoff is retention, says Gordon Feller, a director with the company’s Internet Business Solutions Group.
“But for us, the primary driver for a remote workforce is to retain and attract talent, and keep that talent fulfilled and creative,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to increase happiness and productivity than to add another employee.”
It’s much the same story with financial-services giant State Street , which has nearly $2.12 trillion under management and 29,000 employees in 26 countries.
“We approach it more from a talent-retention or recruiting perspective," says Mike Scannell, senior vice president of global human resources at State Street. “It differentiates us as an employer and it’s a value proposition for potential job candidates.”
State Street found that 67 percent of its employees wanted some type of flexible work schedule, whether it’s working more hours in fewer days of the week or working from home some of the time.
“We regularly measure the level of engagement we have with our employees,” says Scannell. “We find that the higher the level of that engagement, the better business results we show.”
According to a June survey of 5,300 employees by the online job site CareerBuilder, 10 percent said they telecommute at least once a week, an increase from 8 percent in 2007.
Forrester Research recently bolstered its 2009 projection that 63 million U.S. workers will telecommute at least part-time by 2016.