How to Wring More Work From Your Team

Last Updated Jul 15, 2011 11:05 AM EDT

You, as a manager, are always trying to get a bit more productivity from your employees. A few more sales. Fewer days to project delivery. Results that wow your clients even more than in the past.
Your team members want to do a good job as well. But they'd also like to have a personal life in addition to a paycheck.

Is there any way to reconcile these two desires?

One easy way, really. Let your team members work from home.

According to a new Staples survey, out today, 76% of telecommuters report that they have put in more time on work because of the arrangement. At the same time, 80% report that they have a better work-life balance.

This is possible because these telecommuters are no longer driving 77 miles, round-trip (on average) five days a week. That's 385 miles of time that isn't contributing to work place productivity, or to the worker's personal life. Sure, people listen to the radio, listen to audio books, and otherwise try to make the most of a commute. But fundamentally, it's wasted. Once people can chuck this down time -- at least a few days a week -- they respond by giving some of it to their employers, and some of it to themselves.

In other words, it's win-win. Of course, given that Staples would like to sell office equipment to consumers, the company has an interest in painting telecommuting in a positive light -- and thus nudging people toward having multiple workplaces. But these findings have been echoed elsewhere, too. One study of IBM workers found that when people could work from home sometimes and set their own hours, they could work 57 hours per week before a sizable number experienced work-life conflict. Those stuck in offices during certain hours could only work 38. That's a 19-hour difference.

Yet despite calculations claiming some 63 million US workers have jobs that can be done at least partially from home, fewer than 3 million work from home regularly. Given the potential upsides to employers, there's no reason for this number to be as low as it is.

What's your policy on working from home?

Related:
Photo courtesy flickr user, stevendepolo

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