Engagement | January 27, 2014

Polar Vortex 2: A New Train of Thought

Much to the nation’s discomfort the Polar Vortex has blasted us again, with Winter Storm Janus putting its predecessor to shame. However, while catching an earlier-than-usual train to beat the snow last Tuesday, I was daydreaming about 60-degree weather when I noticed a refreshing sight—the trains were jam-packed!

The 4 PM weather-induced rush hour would not have been as common even as recently as the 1990s, when as few as 10% of U.S. workers telecommuted, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Today, 17% of employees work at least one day a week from home.

The people on the train were there because their employers understand that looking out the office window and having the stress of getting home pile up along with the snow doesn’t keep employees productive or engaged—giving them the option to work more comfortably from home does. In fact, remote workers are likely to stay productive well past traditional office hours, being trapped inside during a blizzard and all.

Without polling individual riders, it’s impossible to determine how many commuters would actually log on upon arriving home as opposed to getting a head start on a snowman. And by now, we can almost recite from memory the pros and cons of telecommuting. Whether or not your company’s culture or technology support a remote workforce, the most important takeaway is that employees must feel their well-being matters. Such appreciation almost always gives employee engagement levels a quick boost—and in this particular case, peace of mind for their families.

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