What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting (also known as working from home, working virtually or e-commuting) is an arrangement in which the employee works outside the office, often working from home or a location close to home (including coffee shops, libraries, and various other venues). With the recent Coronavirus outbreak, working remotely has become the sole option for many organizations. Below, we will discuss the advantages of telecommuting and the disadvantages of telecommuting.
Telecommuting Advantages and Disadvantages:
Pros of Telecommuting
- Health and safety concerns can be addressed.
- Those pesky commutes to/from the office are eliminated.
- It is easier to focus without the usual workplace distractions.
- Transportation costs, which can be substantial, are eliminated.
- It can provide a better balance of work and personal pursuits. FlexJobs cites that the main reason individuals prefer gig roles is to improve work/life balance.
- Employers may save money on real estate and other overhead expenses.
- It has been shown to be more productive for many employees. The Business News Daily found remote workers not only achieved better results, they also led healthier lifestyles.
Cons of Telecommuting:
- The employee has less personal contact with managers and coworkers, which may hinder communication and lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- It can be more difficult for some leaders to supervise someone working from home. It takes a greater degree of trust and may involve difficult conversations if the employee is not living up to expected standards.
- Depending on circumstances, the employee may have more disruptions at home.
- Socializing with peers may be more challenging.
- The company (or individual) needs to ensure effective technology is available.
It may seem like a dream to be able to work remotely, but not everyone is well suited for the telecommuting world. Here are some recommendations to maximize your effectiveness:
- Set aside a location in your home to be used solely for work. I love my home office and consider it to be my oasis. Make your workspace comfortable and keep it clean and organized. If you like, add pictures, candles, plants, whatever it takes to keep you feeling focused, engaged and motivated.
- Minimize distractions. Keep yourself disciplined. I am all for taking regular and frequent breaks but I encourage you to use those breaks as a reward for getting work done. It can be very tempting to just check out your social media guilty pleasures for just a minute or two. However, for some, that time can turn into a wasted 20 minutes without your being aware of it. And the refrigerator or laundry may be calling your name. There’s nothing wrong with having a meal or snack or getting chores done, as long as you aren’t use them as a way of avoiding work.
- Make a list. Lists can be extremely motivating. They can allow you to capture your priorities and can ensure you stay on track. I leave it to you to decide how frequently to create and update them. Lists can keep you honest.
- Include structure in your day. Be sure to get up at a regular time each morning and follow your typical routine. Get showered, dressed and eat breakfast at the same time you would as if you were going into your office. Even though you may be working virtually, what you wear and how you are groomed is a critical part of your brand and if you feel good about how you look, you may increase your productivity. The way we look sends a message to others, even if they cannot see us. And with so many platforms like Zoom, Skype, Adobe Connect etc. it IS very possible that others will be seeing us at some point during our week.
- End work at the end of the day. For some, working from home means that there is a constant opportunity to be productive 24/7. Set an intention to be as productive as possible during your work hours and at the end of the day, put the work aside. It’s important for our mental and physical health to get exercise and spend time with family and friends (even if it is in a socially distant way). Be mindful to be present when you are both in a working mode and relaxing. You, and those you interact with, will appreciate it.