Is Telecommuting the Future of Business?

Marissa Mayer might not be a fan but remote working is a growing part of the modern workplace, and French car manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen is taking advantage of its benefits to aid the Group’s recovery. So is this the end of the 9 to 5?

Marissa Mayer might not be a fan – the CEO famously brought an end to Yahoo’s telecommuting culture in 2013 in an attempt to revitalize the company’s fortunes – but remote working is a growing part of the modern workplace. Taking advantage of the new information and communication technologies available across the world, an increasing number of employees are going virtual, performing their duties outside of the workplace. So is this the end of the 9 to 5?

Benefits of telecommuting

Marissa Mayer’s decision to rein-in Yahoo’s remote working staff made sense for her company at the time. The decision allowed her to concentrate on getting the workforce physically reconnected and enabled her to re-direct the company’s strategy and culture in a more positive direction. But her standpoint is actually contrary to evidence.

A study by Stanford reveals that people working independently at home are actually more productive than their colleagues in the office. A survey by Greenworking reports an average gain in productivity of +22%. Without a daily commute and with flexible working hours, employees gain time, benefit from extra sleep, spend more time with their families, and see improved concentration and greater efficiency along with this higher quality of life.

Telecommuters also work longer hours, are healthier, and take fewer sick days, which benefits not only employee, but employer. Indeed, thanks to increased productivity, staff retention, and cut overheads, case studies show that telecommuting saves companies money.

Employers are also offered the benefit of managing their staff more efficiently. They have a broader choice of employees who can work in any country, at any time, almost anywhere. Companies can also select remote workers with hard-to-find skill sets and shop global talent for each type of task at hand.

Telecommuting can also help to reduce the carbon footprint of a company, and enables the integration of disabled workers and employees with transportation constraints or family commitments.

Telecommuting numbers on the rise

So it’s no surprise that the trend is gaining popularity. In the UK, 59% of employers are offering teleworking, up from 13% in 2006. And an IPSOS survey of 2011 reported that 28% of UK workers were telecommuting at least twice a week. In a global trend, that figure is a staggering 82% in India, and in the US, 24% of employed people report working from home at least some hours each week.

PSA Peugeot Citron using telecommuting to aid company’s recovery

One such company consciously taking advantage of the benefits of telecommuting is French car manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen. In response to loses of around $5 billion in the years 2012 and 2013, in 2014 the French institution launched a telecommuting trial as part of its New Social Contract, a programme working to involve employees in the Group’s recovery. 6 months after the trial’s launch, 1,000 employees had opted for this new way of working.

A progress report detailed that the telecommuting PSA workforce is based mainly in technical and administrative units; 64% of telecommuters are men and 36% are women; the average age is 43; and all generations are represented with 37% of telecommuters under 39, 41% between 40 and 49, and 21% over 50.

Philippe Dorge, Executive Vice President of Human Resources comments: “After a test phase, telecommuting has been successfully introduced in the Group. In just a few months, it has become a normal way of organising work. Of course, it is carefully managed and must be compatible with the job in question, but the advantages for the telecommuter and the Company outweigh any difficulties and the environmental impact is positive.”

Teleworking regulations added to the French Labour Code

Teleworking regulations were added to the French Labour Code in March 2012, bringing more clarity to the legal rights of both teleworkers and employers. And as such Credit Agricole, SFR, Michelin, and Renault are just some of the other French companies who are now taking advantage telecommuting in their business models. And perhaps as Marissa Mayer rebuilds the culture at Yahoo, she and her team will once again turn to remote working.

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