Telecommuting (or teleworking) is work arrangements with employers that allow employees to work from home, at a customer site, or from other convenient locations instead of the corporate office. Rather than traveling to the office, the employee “travels” via telecommunication links, keeping in touch with coworkers and employers via telephone and email. The worker may occasionally enter the office to attend meetings and touch base with the employer. However, with many options for distance conferencing, there may be no need to visit the office.
The Growth of Telecommuting:
- Work is increasingly knowledge-based. Employees can create, assimilate, and distribute knowledge at home as effectively as they can at an office.
- Telecommuting enables workers to shift their work to accommodate their lifestyles (e.g., parents, disability).
- New technologies used by telecommuters are becoming better and cheaper (e.g., price of PC and “back office” applications).
- The increasing reliance on web-based technologies by all generations (particularly Generation Y and Millennials).
- A mounting emphasis on conserving energy.
Advantages of Telecommuting:
- No Commuting, Depending on your current commute, this can save you anywhere from minutes to hours every day, which you can spend doing things you enjoy, like sleeping, spending more time with your kids or spouse, going to the dog park, or any other activity you’d like to have more time for.
- Increased Independence,Working from home puts the onus on you to complete your work without constant reminders, which some people absolutely love. No office politics, no boss breathing down your neck, no distracting coworkers. Telecommuting can be glorious. And yet, it’s very easy to get distracted by things in your home. Some days these seem like a much better alternative to actually doing work. Having a high degree of self control and self-discipline is essential to being a productive telecommuter.
- Increased Savings.Most people who work from home have very little need for professional clothing, which not having to buy can save lots of money every year. Other things you’ll find less need for: gas or public transit passes for commuting, lunches out, dry cleaning, and child care (depending on your situation). And most people who work from home are able to save on their taxes each year because of the tax-deductible expenses associated with working from home.
- More Flexibility.Again, this depends on the type of job you’ll have at home, but many work-from-home jobs allow for a flexible schedule, so if you need to go grocery shopping or do a load of laundry in the middle of the day, it’s simple: you can. Or, if you’re a morning person or a night owl, you can adjust your work schedule accordingly.
- Fewer sick days.Working in a traditional office exposes you to many people’s germs, but if you work from home, you have less exposure to people, and therefore, to their germs. Also, if you’re feeling under the weather, it’s much easier to pamper yourself and still get some work done when you’re at home, meaning you’ll probably take fewer sick days.
Disadvantages of Telecommuting:
- Decreased human interaction,If you’re the sort of person who thrives on interactions with other people, working from home can feel isolating. It’s possible to remedy this feeling with e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging, and video conferencing, but it’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. Some telecommuters find that working from a coffee shop or library satisfies their people fix, but others prefer the office environment to solitude. A coworking space might solve this problem by allowing you to telecommute AND work from an office setting.
- Blurring Work and Personal Life, When you work from home, you can’t always shut out your personal life while you’re working, or turn off your work life while you’re “off the clock.” Having a separate work space from the rest of your home can help, but some people find it difficult to stop working when they know it’s only a few feet away.
- Difficulty Demonstrating Workload,If you’re a telecommuter working for a company with a traditional office, your office-bound coworkers might perceive you as doing less work simply because you’re at home. It’s important to showcase your workload to demonstrate to managers and coworkers that you are accomplishing as much, if not more, as you would if you were in a cubicle down the hall.
Strategic Management of Information Systems, 5th Edition International Student Version. Keri E.Pearlson, Carol S. Saunders
Managing Teleworkers and Telecommuting Strategies by Gina Vega