Friday, October 31, 2014 · 7:24 a.m.

Yahoo policy change sparks interest in telecommuting

Survey: 7 percent of telecommuters work in the nude

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Leaders with Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee recently discussed their telecommuting program and said that employees who work at home are some of the most engaged.

But this week, Yahoo's Chief Executive Marissa Mayer squashed the company's work-from-home arrangements, sparking debate about the value of telecommuting. 

About four years ago, when local BCBST employees consolidated from 14 buildings into two—with the main campus atop Cameron Hill—some workers got the opportunity to work from home.

Now, company leaders have organized a telecommuting program that, four years in, has1,068 full-time employees who work remotely.

But the BCBST program doesn't mean employees are sitting at home with pajamas on, in bed with laptops. BCBST employees still have to sit at a workstation and have to agree to certain conditions, such as not providing home child care while working. 

Last summer, a survey provided insight into the thoughts and desires of American office employees.

The Wakefield Research Study, commissioned by Citrix, found that 64 percent of people would give up a pleasure, such as drinking alcohol, to be able to work from home once a week.

Slate.com picked up the study and focused on the part that finds out what employees really do when they are “working” from home.

Half of the workers surveyed said that their bosses disapprove of working from home. 

Thirty-five percent said it is tolerated, according to Slate and the survey.

The survey results won’t give telecommuting skeptics much confidence in the option—43 percent of respondents said they have watched television or a movie while working from home.

Thirty-five percent have done chores, and 28 percent have cooked dinner.

Psychology Today reported that having a separate workspace—as opposed to working from bed—can lead to higher production. 

Nearly half of the respondents to the Wakefield Research Study said they don’t stay in pajamas all day, likely another psychological aspect of being productive while telecommuting.

Respondents said they dress down at home, but that 49 percent are more inclined to wear jeans and T-shirts, not pajamas.

Twenty-five percent rock nightgowns or flannel pants, and 7 percent work in their underwear or in the nude.

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