Tracking telecommuters helps companies stay productive

Businesses need to successfully manage everyone who works from home.

Businesses need to successfully manage everyone who works from home.

One of the most reported acts of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in recent years was to forbid employees to work remotely, or "telecommute." Her reasoning behind this change centered on a concern for employee productivity, since the company reportedly had workers who were so removed from the office culture it was causing confusion.

Yet, some took issue with Mayer's actions and they raise the question: how generous should a "work from home" policy be? Where should your business draw the line? Like many work issues, the answers will likely differ depending on the specific company, and there are both pros and cons to letting employees log in off-site to get work done.

However, no matter how productive a remote worker can be, some allege that office culture is simply too important to the workplace to privilege working outside of it too much. In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Noreena Hertz of the Centre for the Study of Decision-Making wrestles with both sides of the issue.

"Even in the age of big data, critical insights are gleaned and generated from our face-to-face reading of others' moods, enthusiasm, and level of engagement," she says. "Technology is currently not able to capture these intangibles." At the same time, she acknowledges that things could be different for younger workers, saying "it's possible that Generation Facebook can co-create and collaborate quite happily from afar."

One thing companies should watch out for when launching a remote working policy is the possibility that employees could abuse the system. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a California state worker who illicitly worked for an outside company for months in blatant disregard of government policy. The individual was disciplined and the incident led to a revision of telecommuting standards.

Reduce the chances of this fraud through HR system implementation that helps your business truly manage all employees and doesn't let anyone "slip through the cracks."