Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remote working can be win-win for employees and companies: A study and recommendations from IBM's Jayne Nanavaty-Dahl

Remote working is a growing business practice with an estimated 10 percent of today's workforce telecommuting. Some companies have partially or completely done away with their physical offices in favor of virtual ones. One of those companies is IBM. Some 15,000 North American employees work remotely under its Other Than Traditional Office (OTTO) initiative.

That's a fast start, considering it launched just about two years ago. I recently talked to the leader behind OTTO, Jayne Nanavaty-Dahl, Manager of Workforce Enablement Communications for IBM. Our podcast is above.

Our conversation would be helpful for anyone interested in starting a telecommuting program or looking for ways to improve one already in place.

Jayne talks about her just-completed study with the Marketing Group at Northeast University's College of Business Administration. (Read about it in MIT Sloan Management Review.) Over the past two years, they have been analyzing remote working strategies at IBM and other organizations. Their goal was to identify employee and organizational challenges with remote working, such as lack of physical interaction and visibility with manager and coworkers, and work-life balance issues.

The researchers also found several management strategies to overcome these challenges, including having managerial flexibility and using online networking tools. It's Jayne's opinion that a remote working strategy is a requisite for large global companies. She herself works from home 80-90 percent of her time, and finds herself to be more productive and efficient, especially because she frequently works with people oversees.

In our podcast, Jayne also provides her recommendations for organizations who want to implement a remote worker strategy. She gives her perspective on whether there's an application for 3-D virtual environments when it comes to remote working.

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