When Collars and Couplings manager Carol Plourde suffered a back injury five years ago, she was temporarily unable to make the 45 minute drive from her East Hartford, Conn. home to the Collars and Couplings headquarters in West Springfield, Mass.
The company didn’t want to lose Plourde, a top employee, so they decided to offer her telecommuting, or working from home. It was so successful, that five years later, Plourde continues to telecommute four days a week, coming into the office only on Thursdays.
Plourde enjoys working from home because it allows her to get her son on and off the school bus each day and save a considerable amount of money on gas, business clothes and vehicle wear and tear. “I also like that it’s a greener option,” Plourde said.
Since then, Collars and Couplings has allowed other customer service employees the opportunity of telecommuting two to four days a week. The option originated as a way to accommodate the company’s growth, but has turned into a mutually beneficial working arrangement for Collars and Couplings and its employees. “We had limited space and no place to expand,” President Tony Peterson said.
But while many business owners are hesitant to offer telecommuting to their employees, Peterson has found it to be a welcomed addition to the workplace. “I’m a firm believer that happy employees make for happy customers,” he said. “Plus, happy employees are incredibly loyal.”
This belief is confirmed by Collars and Couplings’ experiences and a recent study at Stanford University which found that the performance of telecommuting professionals increased by 12 percent while employee attrition dropped by 50 percent. Overall job satisfaction also increased.
This increase in job performance is largely attributed to a reduction in sick days and an increase in overall productivity for at-home workers. “I’m not as distracted at home so I can focus better,” sales and purchasing representative Linda Smith said. “In a way, working at home is no different than working in the office; I still have a job to get done.”
“I work hard out of respect for the company,” she said. “They’ve given me this opportunity and I’m not going to take advantage of it. They respect me, so I respect them.”
Plourde agreed. “Some people think that working from home means that you can do whatever you want,” she said. “But I have to be at my desk, just as I would be in the office.”
“I actually find that I’m more productive at home,” she said. “There are no interruptions for meetings and I’m not spending time catching up with coworkers about their weekend plans.”