Telecommuting: Taking a Cue from Socrates

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Socrates would likely never have guessed that 2500 years after he stated “Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess,” the concept would be applied to the realm of telecommuting. Yet, it is the most accurate way to describe our philosophy and approach towards telecommuting and other work/life balance options at VisionIT.  Too much of one thing can in fact, be detrimental, and that includes spending too much time away from the in-person, collaboration that being in the office affords.

A recent study by Gallup provides some evidence that remote work in moderation does lead to higher employee engagement levels. The research indicates that workers who spend less than 20 percent doing so, are more engaged than their counterparts who never work remotely. However, as workers spend more than 20 percent of their time remotely, levels of engagement decline as they spend more time off-site. The specific findings included:

  • Among workers who never work remotely, 28 percent are engaged – meaning they are emotionally involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work.
  • Yet, among employees who spend up to 20 percent of their time remotely, 35 percent are engaged.

This particularly resonates with us at VisionIT because the nature of our industry necessitates a high number of virtual workers. As I commented nearly a year ago after Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer halted telecommuting at her organization altogether, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to world of work/life balance programs. We also know that success of telecommuting is dependent upon the individual and their responsibilities.  At VisionIT, we believe that our team members are most satisfied and most successful when they have a balance of both worlds – opportunities for face-to-face collaboration and fellowship with peers and exposure to management/leadership in the office, along with the enjoyment and autonomy that working remotely can offer.

Communicating and fostering our company culture is an important focus of our company, and that means finding creative approaches to engage our virtual workforce. For us, a combination of online and video collaboration tools, in-person summits or meetings, and even hosting team-building excursions outside of the office all lead to striking the balance Socrates so intelligently spoke of years ago.