WBEZ | commute http://www.wbez.org/tags/commute Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As Yahoo CEO sparks debate over telecommuting, advocates say Chicagoans are spending too much time at the office http://www.wbez.org/news/yahoo-ceo-sparks-debate-over-telecommuting-advocates-say-chicagoans-are-spending-too-much-time <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3593_LSD Tim Brown 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80965179" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/3114444338/" target="_blank" title="Slowly Creeping Home by swanksalot, on Flickr"><img alt="Slowly Creeping Home" src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3254/3114444338_2ecea8a80a.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 426px; float: left;" title="Chicago's long commute (Flickr/Seth Anderson)" /></a>Leaders at internet giant Yahoo have announced plans to stop letting employees work from home.</p><p>Last week, <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20130222/yahoo-ceo-mayer-now-requiring-all-remote-employees-to-not-be-remote/" target="_blank">it was reported</a> that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo&rsquo;s new CEO, will force the web company&rsquo;s few hundred remote workers to come back to the office.</p><p>The move was controversial because in some ways Yahoo is bucking a growing trend. Between 2005 and 2011, the number of workers telecommuting in the U.S. grew by 73 percent.</p><p>So where does Chicago fit into this trend?</p><p>Despite significant growth, Chicago lags behind San Diego, Atlanta, Seattle and a slew of other urban areas in the percentage of total workers who work mainly from home. According to 2009 data, Chicago was at 2.3 percent - the same as the national average at the time (it&rsquo;s now 2.5 percent).</p><p>&ldquo;Companies continue to think about flexibility and telework as being this sort of soft fluffy thing,&rdquo; said Kyra Cavanaugh. Her consulting firm, Life Meets Work, helps Chicago-area businesses transition to what she calls a &ldquo;flexible workplace model.&rdquo; She argues letting people work from home and allowing flexible hours increases productivity and employee satisfaction, and reduces absenteeism.</p><p>On top of the advantages to telecommuting, there are also disadvantages to commuting in Chicago: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-chicago-traffic-bad-leave-early-105360" target="_blank">a recent study</a> shows that it can take Chicago drivers four times as long as it should to get to and from work.</p><p>But Cavanaugh thinks the city&rsquo;s not ready to go too far down the telecommuting road.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is the place where, you know, we smelt steel and slaughter cattle, and our attitudes about workplace practices represent that still,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago-area employers who encourage telecommuting include Aetna, Bank of America and the federal government. The federal <a href="http://www.telework.gov/Telework_Enhancement_Act/index.aspx" target="_blank">Telework Enhancement Act of 2010</a> encourages federal agencies to save money by allowing eligible employees to work from home, and from 2005-2011 there was a 424 percent increase in the numbers of federal employees working out of the office.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 17:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/yahoo-ceo-sparks-debate-over-telecommuting-advocates-say-chicagoans-are-spending-too-much-time