Who's left to stand up for teleworking?

Who's left to stand up for teleworking?

Summary: While Yahoo and Google have taken a stance against teleworking, Intel has come out in full support of giving employees freedom to work anywhere. So should businesses rethink their approach on allowing employees to work outside of the office?

TOPICS: Telework, Australia

As technology advancements make working away from the desk much easier, teleworking seems like the way of the future. But with technology juggernauts stepping out to say "nay" to teleworking, this future where employees can work wherever they please has been put into question.

Recently, I serendipitously found myself chatting to a woman who was an employee of Google in Australia. I probed her about working at one of the world's coolest companies, marvelling at the fact that Google caters lunch for staff every day at the office, only for her to dismiss the perk as one with an ulterior motive.

"They do it because they want to keep us in the office and at our desks," she said.

It was hard to believe that a company as progressive as Google would seemingly shun remote working. That was until Google CFO Patrick Pichette revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald last week that the company doesn't like the idea of teleworking.

According to Pichette, it is important for Google employees to be able to see each other in the office to share new and innovative ideas.

Yahoo's recent ban on teleworking also illustrates the fact that there is still a stigma attached to it, with staff that work away from the office being perceived as not as productive due to the lack of supervision.

A recent study by recruitment firm Ambition showed that many IT workers in Australia don't have flexible working conditions, such as remote working and negotiable work hours. Ambition's managing director for technology Andrew Cross said that IT employees are reluctant to let employees telework because they don't trust employees to work as hard when they're not in the office.

The Federal government has been a big supporter of teleworking. Even startups are getting together and working outdoors these days. Is freeing employees from their cubicle prisons really all that bad?

Intel's general manager of enterprise solutions Gordon Graylish stands against Google and Yahoo when it comes to teleworking.

With over 91,500 employees around the world and a robust bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, Intel is a big supporter of remote working.

"All companies need to consider all of their employees," Graylish told ZDNet. "Frankly, the more we can accommodate for people's lifestyles, the better, and if we can provide them with tools to work effectively wherever they are, we will."

To complement its BYOD policy, Intel recently started rolling out company-issued Windows 8 touch devices to employees, to ensure that they have the right equipment to be as productive as possible, he said.

"I spend a lot of my time engaged with the company from different parts of the world, and Intel has made that really easy for me to do, whether it is through video conferencing or connecting to the corporate environment — the walls have sort of disappeared, and I think that's part of modern life," Graylish said. "We live in a world that is moving very quickly, and we need to enable people to operate in the most comfortable and effective fashion."

As for doubts about employee productivity while working away from the office, the Intel executive doesn't buy into that perception at all. According to Graylish, around 85 percent of Intel's staff work from a mobile device, be it notebooks or tablets.

"We expect people to get their jobs done, not that they need to be at a particularly place, or do it at a particular time," he said. "When you're looking at global organisations, finding ways to connect people so there is a sense of community among those people is really important.

"But at the same time, do people work harder because they are being watched? I don't think so."

Google and Yahoo's motivations to discourage teleworking are legitimate. Ideas can flourish in group environments, and having employees in the office means productivity is easier to measure. But being tied to a desk seems like such an archaic concept when mobile devices, complete with collaboration tools, are at the disposal of companies willing to trust their employees to work effectively from anywhere in the world.

What are your thoughts on remote working? Do you think Google and Yahoo are heading down the right direction in terms of shunning teleworking? Let us know in the comments section below.

Topics: Telework, Australia

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • the sad reality

    is while many companies are against teleworking for the 40-50 hours a week you are explicitly paid for, they are 100% in support of employees staying in electronic contact during evenings, weekends, and vacations. Checking email, answering questions, responding to issues, following up with customers, and solving problems that come up during off hours have become a standard part of many jobs. I would be surprised if Google or Yahoo employees are any different.
  • If they are salaried,, they should be available.

    That is why we are paying polititians and their staffs exorbitant money AND providing them with taxpayer funded transportation including drivers on 24 hour call at exorbitant pay.
    One never knows when Bo is going to need to go, so, there is a salaried $100,000.00 a year white house dog walker on 24 hour call.
    If you are going to be paid big bucks, you should plan to work for the money.
    That said, there are clearly some jobs that should not require a "physical" presence. The dog walker must be present. But the dogs email reader and responder can probably work on a smartphone/tablet from a bar stool while half lit.
    Yahoo MUST get their product development people in the same building to get them on the same page.
    They attempted to roll out a "new improved" web based email product that wouldn't work on a touch screen device before they had made a Mobile APP that would connect to their Business E-Mail Service. That would have really disrupted my business and had they followed through on their plan to simply turn the "Classic E-Mail" off last September to force me to switch to the "NEW IMPROVED" e-mail, they would have lost my 4 web hosting contracts that include them providing me with Business E-Mail since my business is moble.

    I paid big bucks to get a Samsnug GT-P6800 tablet/phone so I could do my job anyplace I had a cell phone connection because I don't carry a PC with me everywhere I go and pay for two data plans..

    The sales persome needs to be able to work from where ever. The Tech support can probably work from where ever. The people doing things that can make or break a company, and I bet Yahoo losing a big bunch of web/business emaill accounts would have broken them, probably need to be in the same building, if not in the same room.
  • Remote working is alive and kicking.

    You have to understand there is a time and place for everything. That goes for telecommuting as well. Some people can perform better at home or even in the middle of a mall better than in an office but other are not so fortunate. For telecommuting to work effectively there needs to be a mutual obligation from both sides.

    Yahoo has not damaged the concept of remote working by getting their staff back into the office, they are just trying to get the company out of a tail spin the best way they can. People can jump up and down all they like and read into it erroneous motives but step back and think for a moment, you will agree they are doing the right thing for now.