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Herman Trend Alert: Telecommuting to a Better Bottom Line

A Cisco study on telecommuting found that telecommuting significantly increased employee productivity, work-life flexibility and job satisfaction.

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

Telecommuting is a logical, stress-reducing, productivity gaining alternative to burning fossil fuels to travel to a congregate workspace.

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Now the international technology giant Cisco Systems has just released a study of its own organization demonstrating these benefits and more. Using telecommuting, Cisco estimates annual savings of $277 million. In its in-depth "Teleworker Survey" of almost 2,000 company employees, the company evaluated the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with telecommuting.

The study found that telecommuting significantly increased employee productivity, work-life flexibility, and job satisfaction. In addition, the report cited that "a majority of respondents experienced a significant increase in work-life flexibility, productivity and overall satisfaction as a result of their ability to work remotely."
 
The productivity gains were impressive. Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remotely, and 75 percent said the timeliness of their work improved. Sixty-seven percent reported work quality improvement. Telecommuting can also lead to better employee retention; more than 91 percent of participants said telecommuting was somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction and 80 percent believed they enjoyed an improved quality of life.
 
In addition, the environment benefits. In 2008, due to avoided travel Cisco teleworkers prevented the release of approximately 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Cisco employees report a fuel cost savings of $10.3 million per year due to telecommuting — an average of over $5,000 per employee surveyed.

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While the organization does manufacture software that facilitates telecommuting and telework, these savings, due to increased employee productivity, were realized internally. The 1,992 Cisco employees polled for this survey are located across five regions throughout the world. Forty percent of the respondents are not located in the same city as their managers. The average Cisco employee telecommutes two days per week.

Expect to see a continued, steady rise in the number and percentage of employees who telecommute, which bodes well for Cisco and its products. The greatest obstacle is the inability of managers to feel comfortable when they are not sharing the same physical space with their direct reports. The good news: they are getting over it.

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