In at least some IT departments, barriers need to fall fast, because workers with in-demand tech skills have become more demanding. "Some companies that have never offered telecommuting before for their IT staffs are now considering it," says John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology, an IT executive search firm. The reason is simple: IT applicants are rejecting jobs that don't offer telework as an option. (Indeed, in Computerworld's annual Salary Surveys, telecommuting consistently ranks in the top 5 job priorities for respondents.)
Which techies get to telecommute?
Does that mean CIOs can simply fling open the doors to the enterprise and set their people free? Not exactly, experts caution.
In deciding who can and can't work remotely, sources agree that it depends on the employee's level of hands-on work and collaboration. "Supervisory roles, roles that involve hardware management, or strategy and business planning -- those people need to be close to the action," says RHT's Reed. "Roles that require writing code and doing phone-based technical support are easier to do remotely."
That means anyone dealing with deskside support -- never. Business analysts and project managers charged with collaborating with users -- rarely. IT managers -- rarely.
Annis agrees that it's "difficult, but not impossible" for IT managers to work remotely. What's more feasible is telecommuting once a week. "It's important that I'm here. I'm the eyes and ears of development" -- which means it's important for him to interact face-to-face with the business side when necessary. Occasionally, though, he'll steal away from the office to work on a specific project.
In fact, many CIOs who have implemented telework for their IT staff recommend this. "Any work that requires your full concentration but does not require collaboration is better suited to be done off-site," says Niraj Jetly, CIO at EdenredUSA, the U.S. division of a global developer of employee benefits and incentive solutions in Newton, Mass.
"A task that requires four to five hours of concentration can easily take two business days in the office," Jetly observes. "If I have to write an RFP response, and I've already brainstormed with the functionality team and I just need to write it down, it's ideal to do it from home."
Telework allows businesses to ...