In the latest entry illustrating that face time is an important element to "managing up", a recent study by FutureStep (the recruiting arm of Korn/Ferry International) found that sixty-one percent of more than 1,300 executives from 71 countries believe workers who telecommute have a lesser chance of advancing in their career, even though more than one-third of those executives noted that telecommuters are more productive than workers in traditional office settings. Special thanks to the slacker to the right for promoting the fear (he posted this picture on his blog to show how much freedom he had while telecommuting)...
Among the other findings:
--42 percent of 1,730 executives said telecommuters were as productive as workers in traditional settings, and 36 percent said they were more productive. Only 22 percent said they were less productive than workers in traditional settings.
--77 percent of 2,034 executives said they would “probably” or “definitely” consider a job in which they could telecommute regularly, and 16 percent they might consider such a job.
--66 percent of 1,944 executives said taking a sabbatical or extended break was “extremely” or “somewhat” beneficial to a person’s career.
--Asked to rate the type of flexible work arrangements they found most attractive, 46 percent of 1,900 executives put flexible hours at the top, followed by working from home (22 percent).
What's it all mean? My take is that while companies like Best Buy are promoting extreme work-life balance arrangements and reducing the emphasis on face time, for most of the world the value of face time is still a strong reality. The sweet spot seems to be the last bullet point above, in which flexible hours are the most desired work arrangement. My definition of flexible hours means that when you want to get away to work on projects for a half day, a full day or part of a week, you have the ability to do that, and still maintain an office or a cube at the factory to maintain the presence and face time.
Although the world is becoming increasing virtual, the quip "out of sight, out of mind", seems to hold true via the results of the study, even as executives say you are more productive with a telecommuting arrangement. Best to get some of the benefits and keep one foot in the more traditional rat race...