Monday, December 8, 2008

Close Your Offices...But Keep Your People

As you probably heard, over 500,000 jobs were lost in November - the biggest one-month drop since 1974. With the exception of healthcare, layoffs are now a daily occurrence in every industry.

But do they have to be?

In a rather compelling blog post I read today - entitled "What's An Office For?" - the author proposes that companies should consider telecommuting before layoffs. In other words, why not shut down your physical offices and transition to a remote workforce to save money?

As a telecommuter myself, of course I'm biased, but it sure sounds like a win-win to me. Companies could cut their overhead dramatically, employees could bid a happy farewell to their gas and lunch budget - and everybody could stay afloat. Plus, let's not forget that research shows that telecommuting produces 22% higher productivity, 60% lower absenteeism and 20% less turnover. Hello!

Yet strangely, as the blogger points out, no one seems to be talking about telecommuting as a way to save the day (or the planet). That's sad. While it might not work for the Big Three auto makers or the manufacturing industry, it could rescue a LOT of other companies, especially those that are service-based or web-based.

As they say, human capital is the most important kind. People, not machines, are the source of creativity and innovation. Shouldn't they be prioritized?