Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 16, 2013

Minnesota star telecommuting state

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

The Twin Cities has experienced the fifth-biggest rise among metro areas nationwide in the number of workers based at least partly at home, according to U.S. Census Bureau commuting surveys. Between 2000 and 2010, the number rose by almost 22,000 people, to about 82,500, according to estimates.

And Minnesota is the only state with two big job centers, Mankato and St. Cloud, among the top 10 metro areas nationally in the share of people working from home.

They don’t mention other areas such as Fergus Falls, Olmsted County or other areas featured in an MPR article on telecommuting in rural Minnesota – but I will add them.

The article highlights some of the benefits of telecommuting. From the point of view of the workers – it’s nice to work and be around when your kids get home from school. As someone who normally lives that life, I have to second that benefit. Also businesses are seeing increased levels of productivity…

About three-quarters of the 48 eWorkPlace employers [employers who allow telecommuting] reported that productivity increased, while only a smattering sensed a decrease, according to a Humphrey School report.

And they are reducing costs…

“Organizations are trying to cut costs,” Kacher said, “and one way is through real estate. It’s not hard to have people like travel agents work from home: It saves lots of money on real estate, reduces turnover and people have more time. ”

The article recognizes that this news comes in the shadow of businesses such as Yahoo and Best Buy stepping back from telecommuting. Last month, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer pulled the plug on telecommuting in a memo…

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

The Huffington Post countered the Yahoo move with more research supporting telecommuting as a practice but also indicating management’s hesitation with it…

- A Stanford study, conveniently released on the same day as Yahoo’s memo, reported that call center employees increased their performance by 13 percent when working from home. They also reported “improved work satisfaction and experienced less turnover,” according to the study.

- A University of Texas at Austin study from late last year found that those people who work from home “add five to seven hours to their workweek compared with those who work exclusively at the office.” Such workhorses, we homeworkers are!

- A Bureau of Labor Statistics study, also from last year, reported that working remotely “seems to boost productivity, decrease absenteeism” — that means missing work — “and increase retention.” It also gives employers more incentive to ask you to work on weekends, the authors say. Boo!!

- According to some recent research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, bosses are roughly 9 percent more likely to consider you “dependable” and “responsible” if you “put in expected face time” Translation: Being at the office can help you get that raise you so desire.


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