Commentary
11/28/2007
05:45 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary

Telecommuting: A Cause Celebre For CIOs?

It's a much-admired perk, according to a new survey. But how favorably do CIOs look on stay-at-home workers -- both those who toil in IT, and the rest of the company?



It's a much-admired perk, according to a new survey. But how favorably do CIOs look on stay-at-home workers -- both those who toil in IT, and the rest of the company?Citrix Online, a division of thin-client software vendor Citrix Systems that offers Web-based remote-computing services, released the results of a survey yesterday that said almost a quarter of workers in the United States are telecommuters, and of those who aren't, almost two thirds wish they were.

  • 23% of American workers (and 41% of small business owners) regularly work from home or another offsite location, relying on Web technology (e.g., the Internet, e-mail, or programs that allow them to remotely access their office computers or meet with colleagues online).

  • Of those who currently do not have the ability to do their jobs off site, 62% agreed they would like to be able to do so.
  • The results were based on a telephone survey conducted by a market research firm called the polling company (natch!), of 600 Americans, 18 and older, who are currently in the workforce or have plans to enter the workforce within three years, plus an additional 100 small business owners. And the results make it clear that most American workers (and wannabee workers) would welcome the opportunity to work remotely, even if only for part of the time, and that that opportunity is more valued than other, more traditional benefits.

    The survey results indicated that "the ability to work remotely or away from the office at least some of the time" is near the top of the list of the "extra" benefits employees desire: 14% percent of those polled cited its relative value, ahead of stock options (13%) and on-site child care (11%).

    CIOs should take this survey to heart, given the problems most are having attracting and retaining IT talent. But how suited to telecommuting is IT work? I might imagine that there are significant network issues -- bandwidth, security -- with trying to do IT work remotely, but otherwise, what are the downsides? Communication? Project management? Productivity?

    As for telecommuting in general, this is another technology-related business initiative that falls into the CIO's lap. Given the need for CIOs to be out front in driving productivity-enhancing business initiatives, is this something tech managers should champion within their companies? Or are the downsides too great -- the demands on already-stretched IT resources, the significant increases in security threats -- to make this a cause celebre for CIOs?

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