Telecommuting is also known as e-commuting or working from home, generically described as work that can be done from a remote location, i.e. outside a traditional office or workplace setting. It is a work arrangement in which the employee works outside the office, often working from home or a location close to home, i.e. coffee shop. Rather than travelling to the office, the employee will telecommunicate with co-workers and employers via telephone and email. The employee may sometimes go to the office to attend meetings or touch base with the employer. However, there are other options such as conference calls, which means the employee does not need to visit the office
There are several benefits of telecommuting, for both employers and employees.
Benefits for employers:
There are a number of potential benefits for employers when they establish well-designed telecommuting programs for their employees. Below are some benefits:
Increased productivity: while it might seem out-of-sight employees will take advantage of opportunities to slack off, studies indicate the opposite. Studies show that in one case productivity increased by 13% when employees worked from home. Another study found that telecommuters worked on average, 5 to 7 hours longer than their in-office counterparts
Reduced turnover: Employee turnover can be a costly proposition for a business. Studies have shown that employees who are able to telecommute tend to be much happier than their in-office counterparts. When employees are happy, they are typically less likely to leave a position, which can add up savings for employers in the long run
Increase morale: this, too, can have an impact on turnover. Employees who are able to work from home and enjoy a better work/life balance tend to feel more valued. A study showed that telecommuters tend to be less stressed and happier than traditional office workers
Environmentally friendly: telecommuting takes the commute out of the working equation. For eco-conscious companies, this can be a big win
Economically sound: employees aren’t the only ones who can enjoy financial benefits associated with telecommuting. Company can save a large amount of money annually on each employee who telecommutes.
Benefits for employee:
Greater flexibility: most telecommuting jobs have very flexible work schedules allowing you to focus on other tasks that equally matter with ease, such as attending to household chores, taking care of children
Greater fulfilment: generally, you would be happier and more fulfilled than those who work under the traditional working arrangement. This is brought about by a number of factors, including flexible work schedules, minimal supervisions and lack of commuting to and from work
More savings: telecommuting requires no formal attire, no commuting expenses and no parking fees (or other means of transportation and costs), you are therefore capable of saving more money which can significantly bolster your disposable income.
Increased independence: telecommuting negates the need for constant reminders, direct supervisions from the mangers and bosses and also offers less stringent working environments. For those reasons you’d be much freer and more independent which contributes to greater fulfilment and productivity
Suitability to vulnerable persons: telecommuting offers a plausible alternative for the disabled, physically handicapped or mothers who may find it difficult to cope with traditional modes of working and it is the only way they can be co-opted into gainful employment
Levels of telecommuting:
There are four levels of telecommuting which are possible:
100% Telecommuting: this category includes virtual jobs and other positions that are 100% commuting. These jobs may involve being part of a distributed team, working for a completely virtual company, or working for a more traditional company that offer 100% virtual work options
Most Telecommuting: roles that are mostly telecommuting, may require workers to spend at least part of their work schedule in a traditional office depending on the job, you could be free to telecommute for most of your work schedule, but require to come into traditional workplace setting at least some of the time
Some Telecommuting: Jobs that offer some telecommuting may mean working anywhere from a day or two, a week to several days a month in an office or other non-virtual work setting
Option for Telecommuting: the term optional sums up this category. A job with an option for telecommuting may lay out the terms of the telecommuting option upfront, or it could mean it’s up to you to negotiate with the employer to reach a mutual agreement about how often you can telecommute and the conditions for completing your work assignments.
Tips for telecommuters:
Working from home opens up a range of possibilities for the way business can work and structure themselves. As well as opportunities, home working brings new responsibilities for the employer and employee. Such as flexible working regulations. Working from home is good on so many levels, not having to commute saves money and time and can make you happier. However, there are many challenges, here are 10 tips to help!
Identify a plan – create a daily plan of tasks which need to be completed by the end of the day
Use the Cloud – log in from anywhere and never worry about having files with you
Regular Routine – get dressed, shower, and act as if you were going into an office.
Leave the house – leaving the house separates work and personal time, even if it’s going to work in a coffee shop
Enjoy flexibility – focus wavering? Take a break, go for a walk, help to get the creative juices flowing
Comfortable Office – a comfortable environment with a comfortable chair means you’re more inclined to stay working, therefore you’ll be more productive
Google + hangout – not always possible to meet in person if working all over google + is great for 10 people - similar to skype
Working hours – post hours on your door, pretend you’re not home/don’t answer the door/doctors’ appointments. Stop light for family members.
Meet in person – Ensure to meet in person every few months – for kinaesthetic learning, white boarding ideas
Check in with boss – check in with the boss and co-works throughout the day, emailing/calling