Allowing (or even requiring) people to work from home for part or all of their working week can significantly reduce overheads (by $11m per year for the US Patent Office and $96 m for Sun Microsystems). It also benefits staff , who generally welcome the opportunity to avoid travelling to the office every day. Research suggests that telecommuters are happier and more productive.
So why don’t law firms and accountancy firms embrace telecommuting? Many will say it is because the type of work does not lend itself to working from home. Professionals need to be available in the office. Tosh. Much of their day is spent in front of a computer screen, and that can be done from anywhere. Does an associate really need to be physically in the office to take notes in a client conference call?
There are two real reasons why professional firms spurn the benefits of telecommuting: lack of trust (will people really work at home faced with the distractions of walking the dog or making another cup of tea?) and a focus on measuring inputs rather than outputs (ie measuring time spent rather than value created).
The use of telecommuting can be expected to grow and leading professional service firms will embrace it at some point, it is just a question of when. The technology to enable this is mostly already in place, so the main changes required relate to creating the right culture and measuring contribution differently.
A recent Mashable article These telecommuting jobs will surprise you reports that one of the fastest growing areas of telecommuting is the healthcare sector, including neurosurgery. If telecommuting work can be made to work in this sector, it can certainly be made to work for lawyers and accountants.