Telecommuting – “Work is something we DO, not a place that we GO”
I look forward to that day when my job will allow me to telecommute, if not full time, at least part-time.
Telecommuting or telework is simply a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. In a nutshell, it involves working at home, in the coffee shop, library or a place of your convenience.
A teleworker works within own designated hours and at their own pace, as long as all deadlines are met.
These are a few tips to guide those developing a management paper on telecommuting.
- Rather than travelling to the office, the employee “travels” via telecommunication links, keeping in touch with coworkers and employers via telephone and email.
- Telecommuting reduces time spent commuting to work.
- It also implies that you can work under minimum supervision.
- Your work location should be facilitated through a broadband connection, computer/laptop or phone lines. A printer, fax and scanner should also come in handy.
- Telework is facilitated by tools such as groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling, video conferencing and Voice over IP (VOIP).
- Smartphones are becoming widely used in telework. Wi-Fi is virtually everywhere these days.
- Telecommuting equipment is usually provided by the company and the teleworker provides an office space free of distraction.
- The worker may occasionally enter the office to attend meetings and touch base with the employer (however, with the conference call and today’s improved videoconferencing capabilities, telecommuters can even attend meetings from home).
- Face-to-face communication remains important for weekly meetings, brainstorming sessions and other team-related activity.
- Okay for employees who are well suited to independent work
- Telecommuting is both a reward and a sign of the employer’s trust to an individual
- Employees with proven track records of reliability and productivity
- Employees who work well independently and possess the time management skills needed to prioritize and complete tasks.
- Telecommuting should be a choice, not an order. Some employees, even those who seem custom-made for telecommuting, may prefer to stay in-office. Employees should be placed where they are happy, motivated and most productive.
- Telecommuting equipment is provided by the company, though it’s up to the teleworker to provide an office space free of distraction.
- Employers save on real estate, office supplies and utility costs.
- Companies increasingly turn to telecommuting to cut costs, allow their employees to balance work and life and help the environment.
- With the growing trend in “outsourcing” and likely scarcity of talent employers will rely on retired or individuals preferring contractual work and more likely these groups will negotiate for telecommuting.
- Supervisors worry about loss of employee control and productivity.
- Less face-to-face interaction can cause miscommunications that slow productivity.
- Timely communication is also an issue.
- Managers may worry that telecommuters won’t be reachable when they’re most needed.
- Money is saved on expenses such as commuting, lunch or snacks, clothing, and daycare.
- No micromanaging supervisor looking over one’s shoulders.
- Telecommuting can be rather lonely. By missing out on the office gossip, irregular company meetings, the worker can also miss out on vital pieces of information.
- It’s difficult to stand out in an organization or be a team player when one is not there every day.
- Developing and implementing a well thought out telecommuting policy is key.
- It should clearly define the employer’s expectations from work-at-home staff.
- Lines of communication need to be clearly laid out.
- A system for tracking and analyzing productivity should be in place.
- Security of company data both online and documents moved between office and work is paramount.