United States: Why Businesses Should Take A Hard Look At Telecommuting There Are No Glaring Legal Risks In Allowing Workers To Telecommute

Much ink has been spilled about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to bring her workforce back to within the walls of the company's brick-and-mortar offices. It's a controversial decision and no doubt there are many jumping to praise Mayer for her willingness to shake things up. I'm not one of them.

The main reason: flexibility. A worker with a flexible working arrangement is a happy worker. A happy worker is a productive worker. And a productive worker is good for the bottom line, regardless of whether they are humming away in a cubicle or cranking out emails from their kitchen table.

"But having creative employees collaborate in the same room spurns forward thinking and big ideas."

Not necessarily. Creativity and loyalty toward the employer are derived in large part from a worker's satisfaction with their job, and creative people can and will do creative things no matter where they are.

If that creative space is in an office building, so be it, but why prevent them from letting those creative juices flow from other locales? If a worker needs to collaborate with a colleague, he or she can come into the office that day, or pick up the phone. Or better yet, give Skype a try; it's very easy to use.

In 2013, I struggle to comprehend any business' ambivalence about telecommuting. That is, setting aside the costs of telecommuting technology and recognizing that telecommuting is not for all industry sectors and jobs, why not embrace the notion that we are a mobile society and most basic job functions can be performed from anywhere as long as the worker has an Internet connection and working telephone?

"But employees who work from home are not as productive."

Show me the proof. I would submit, and studies have shown, that productivity actually increases when telecommuting. Take out the time and anxiety of a driving commute, and you're already one step ahead of your office mates. Add in the quiet comforts of a home office (no constant ringing of phones or distracting office stop and chats) and you're well on your way to a productive week. Bothered by a troubling email or voice message or experiencing writer's block? Instead of stewing about it at your desk for 20 minutes, go take Fido for a walk to ease your mind or blow off some steam at your local gym to regroup. I could go on, but you get the point.

From a legal standpoint

After Yahoo's decision went public, much of the outrage came from working moms, frustrated that the move set them back and presented a bad example for other companies. Yet telecommuting has benefits for every worker, not just mothers who want to have a career.

Employers that promote agile and mobile workforces are more attractive to a younger generation of workers who are used to the trappings of modern technology. And that's not even accounting for the environmental benefits of telecommuting, like reducing carbon emissions and allowing people to spread out from dense urban environments, or the reductions in an employer's overhead expenses, like costs related to operating large office spaces.

From a legal standpoint, much of the same concerns of a brick-and-mortar office carry over to the remote workforce. There are no glaring legal risks in allowing workers to telecommute. But if a business has a telecommuting policy in place, extra care should be taken that the policy is being enforced consistently, and that certain employees are not facing adverse consequences for working from home.

This is not meant to convince you that telecommuting is for everyone. I'm not even saying that workers should telecommute five days a week. The point is that an outright ban on telecommuting is an extreme and unnecessary measure. If telecommuting is the wave of the future (and there's little doubt that it is), then why not embrace it? If it works for the likes of Cisco, Unilever, Oracle, Best Buy, and IBM, companies that manage enormous multi-national workforces, it can work for most businesses.

Time will tell whether Mayer's decision will give her company the needed boost to catch up to her competitors in big tech or cause her top talent to flee and send the company scrambling again. In any event, New Hampshire businesses considering a shift to telecommuting should be commended. Those looking to follow in Yahoo's footsteps to ban the practice should think twice, or else risk alienating themselves from a growing contingent of young workers who view a flexible working environment as a prerequisite for any new job.

This article reflects one person's opinion. Nothing above should be construed as the platform of my employer or anyone else.

Published in the New Hampshire Business Review

Nicholas Casolaro, an associate in the Litigation Department of the McLane Law Firm, can be reached at ornicholas.casolaro@mclane.com.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions