We recently learned about a little known holiday that is observed the first week of March each year – Telecommuters Appreciation Week. It is a time to share appreciation for telecommuters, but also to consider the benefits of allowing team members to telecommute. And learning about it made me think about the history of telecommuting at Legacy.com.
Legacy.com content screeners work 365 days/year reviewing Guest Book entries and photos for appropriate content prior to posting them online. When I joined Legacy.com in 2002 as a content screener, we were receiving approximately 2000 Guest Book entries each day. And that number was growing exponentially each year. As our numbers grew, so too did the number of content screeners on the team. Soon, we were bursting at the seams in our Evanston office. And we were faced with a tough choice – find a much larger office, or consider allowing some team members to telecommute.
We were reluctant to try telecommuting. Content screening requires thorough concentration and attention to detail. Wouldn’t screeners be distracted by phone calls and other disruptions at home? And would those distractions result in lower productivity or screening errors?
We decided the best way to find out was to just dive in and give it a try. We began with just a couple screeners, and we allowed them to work from home 2 of their 5 work days each week. To our great surprise, they were less distracted and more productive at home than they were in the office. And they were a lot happier. We slowly expanded our test by adding more screeners and allowing them to work 4 out of their 5 work days from home. Our screeners continued to show us that telecommuting was not only a viable option, it was a better option than having them work on-site.
Five years later, most of our content screeners work off-site. For Legacy.com, the benefits of telecommuting are many:
- We greatly expanded our applicant pool. In addition to making it easier to fill positions, this allowed us to be even more selective in our hiring.
- We have not had to significantly increase our office size and overhead.
- Our team members are happier because they don’t have commuting expenses (gas, parking, etc.), and they aren’t spending hours a day stuck in Chicago traffic. And that extra time can be spent with their families.
To all our telecommuters, we say thank you – you are appreciated! Without you, it wouldn’t be possible for Legacy.com to be a success.