Are Telecommuters Slackers? Maybe….Maybe Not

CareerBuilder recently completed a survey of 5300 telecommuters and came up with this conclusion… Telecommuters are slackers. As unlikely as this seems, 17% of those surveyed said they work for one hour a day or less. This result is contrary to all other surveys that have been done on the impact of telecommuting on business over the last 10 years.

The first thing that popped into my mind was “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”. The second thing that popped into my mind was “who would admit to only working 1 hour a day?” But, rather than focus on questioning the survey results I thought I’d ask another question instead – “Is there an underlying problem with the work at home program at the organizations these supposed “slackers” work for?”

Other questions I have are:

  1. Have their managers been trained to manage a virtual workforce?
  2. How is the productivity of these “slackers” being measured?
  3. Were these employees screened before being sent home to make sure they had the characteristics and skills necessary to be successful in the home?
  4. Were these employees trained to work at home?
  5. Are there external failures like network failures, Help Desk issues or slow application delivery that are causing the number of hours worked to decrease?

In other words did the organizations that sent these employees home prepare?

For me the Career Builder survey hi-lighted the importance of have a complete plan put in place before launching a work at home program. Nothing worth doing is easy and the reality is creating a succesful work at home program takes a lot of preparation. Many organizations go through periods of “failure” when launching work at home. They begin to realize that not all the key constituents that should have been involved in creating the program in the first place were left out.  As a result, gaps exist.

Cox has reaped the rewards of including all key parties (HR, Legal, IT, Operations, Training) in the planning phase first hand. We see attrition rates as low as 5%, increased productivity and enjoy a much larger hiring pool. When launching our telework program our planning committee had leaders from all essential parts of the business lead by a project manager whose job it was to put all the pieces together. The results have been extremely positive and don’t reflect the data collected in the CareerBuilder survey in any way, shape or form. Our work at home program along with many others provide real, tangible examples of success.

I’d be curious to find out what others think about the CareerBuilder survey. To find out more about it click on the link below. As always I look forward to your feedback.


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