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Based in Armonk, New York, IBM has 300,000 employees worldwide. Globally, 80,000 IBM employees (26.6%) telecommute at least 1 or 2 days a week. IBM has a clear vision of how telecommuting can work for them, and is convinced that telecommuting will continue to grow in the company.

When IBM made the decision to introduce telecommuting in 1993, its main objective was to cut costs by implementing a space-sharing concept. Employees were able to ‘reserve’ communal office space (‘hoteling’) for a specific time, and complete the rest of their work at home. This drastically reduced the need for office space and allowed for a net saving of $56 million per year across the company. At the end of 1994, IBM opened the door for its entire US sales force of 10,000 employees to telecommute. Within 2 years, it had negated the need for 2 million square feet of office space.

With high-tech workers expecting job flexibility, telecommuting has become something of a necessity at IBM. The company finds that telecommuting improved its ability to retain exemplary employees. A survey conducted in 1996 indicated that the company’s telecommuters were the group who anticipated staying with the company the longest and showed the greatest job satisfaction.

The survey also revealed that 87% of IBM’s telecommuters were ‘more’ to ‘far more’ productive because of telecommuting. The average IBM employee’s personal productivity increased between 10 and 20% after telecommuting was implemented. This is noteworthy given that a productivity increase of only 0.1% was enough to make the telecommuting program cost-effective! Customers also voiced their approval for telecommuting as it allows them to see IBM salespeople more often and receive better service.

IBM employees in Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America are also telecommuting more often. The company plans to continue global expansion of this beneficial work alternative.

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