Rosabeth Moss Kanter to President Obama: Push Telecommuting

Last Updated Apr 22, 2009 9:20 AM EDT

President Obama has a complex, multifaceted agenda that encompasses everything from climate change to increasing American competitiveness.

And now Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kannter has a one-stop solution that will help him advance many of his goals: Make it economically feasible and corporately acceptable for people to work at home one day a week. She says:

"That single step could raise productivity, save energy, decrease pollution, reduce traffic congestion, cut household expenses, increase quality of family life, and keep educated women in the work force."
What is the role of government in making this happen? Government leaders must encourage businesses to actively support the idea of working remotely, and also develop incentives for high-speed technology infrastructure to be extended from office to home.
"To reinvent the work place, we need public officials to put the infrastructure and permission in place, companies to start the change process, and people to learn how to work together with new norms."
As someone who commutes almost three hours a day to and from Boston, I can see how even just a one-day-a-week, work-from-home situation would reduce car maintenance and repair expenses significantly, and probably increase productivity in some types of my work. Would my work-life balance be better? You'll have to ask my wife if she wants me underfoot 20 percent more during the work week.

What about you? Is a government-encouraged telecommuting policy a good idea? Does your current work environment discourage working remotely?

Read Kanter's full blog post Stay Home and Work on Harvard Business Publishing, then come back to give us your take.

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.