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.
What are the Benefits of Working Remotely?
- 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 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.
The Downsides of Telecommuting include:
- 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.
Technology Enabled Freelancing & Telecommuting Jobs
The rise of the Internet in the early 2000s has led to the development of jobs which did not exist 30 years ago. GoDaddy does a great job listing some new improvements in business due to technology. Such as, “Businesses can market their brand easily using their custom website and social media profiles. Companies can manufacture and ship goods globally at affordable rates thanks to improved machinery and delivery logistics.” Businesses have utilized technology to outsource tasks such as website development, data entry, social media marketing & more.
Freelancing Economic Business Models
As said before, there is a rising trend of freelancing in our workforce. GoDaddy explains that Freelancing professionals are traditionally hired by a company to perform a specific task or project and are paid based on their ability to complete agreed upon work. Having contracted work for companies may be cheaper because the companies don’t need to claim the workers and provide benefits and an hourly rate. Also, the size of a company and the number of employees usually depends on how much work there is to do. So, for a bigger company with a steady flow of tasks, they will need more employees. Yet, some industries utilize freelancers instead of workers because of the irregular flow of work there is to do. For example, a website development company may need five freelancers for a large website project but once that project is over, there isn’t a need for all five people. Many dropshipping websites selling things like car accessories or sunglasses utilize freelancers in order to get help when starting. Similarly, companies like Fiverr and Upwork are providing the platform to connect people who need help with those who can provide help. For example, I could find someone to design a website on Fiverr and pay them through the platform. Ultimately, these platforms get a small commission from every transaction through their site. With features like FiverrPro, you can guarantee you will be working with a vetted professional who will do a good job. Interestingly, many of the freelancers on Fiverr and Upwork are Millenials.
Freelancing Age Trend
According to a study done by the US Dept. Of Labor, “Contingent workers were more than twice as likely as non-contingent workers to be under age 25. They were also more than twice as likely as non-contingent workers to work part-time.” As can be seen, young workers are more likely than workers to take a job in freelancing (contingent work). Similarly, more young people join the workforce each year and older people are retiring at the same time. In a report released recently by Upwork, 46 percent of Generation Z workers are currently freelancing. Gen Z and Millenials are doing a large amount of freelancing, partly due to the high demand and because one can do paid projects while being a full-time student.
Word of Mouth in Contract Work
Many people who do Freelancing/Contingent work rely on referrals, connections, and word of mouth. Here at Atticus Consulting, a large percentage of our business is due to referrals, connections, or word of mouth. It is crucial to get connections in your industry so if people ever need help with a specific project, they come to you first. A great example of the power of connections is a company called Helium Interactive. The Co-Founder of this company made a friend in the SEO industry and is now working with 3 new big clients as a result. The SEO expert knew these companies need website design help and was able to provide the client with a website developer recommendation. One powerful connection has created multiple thousands of dollars in contract work. Similarly, connections in any field are valuable. A great example is a website designer who does work in the music industry. He found a lucky break early on and now works with companies such as Warner Music, Atlantic Records, 300 Entertainment. Having connections with these big music companies have led him to work for artists like Bruno Mars, Gucci Mane, and Panic! at the Disco. One powerful connection gets you in the door which opens more doors…
Freelancing Work-Life Balance Benefits
Choosing a job that has a good work-life balance is very important to me. I look for jobs with flexible schedules, low-stress environments, and companies who care about my health/well being. When you become a freelancer, you are in control of your schedule and you have awesome perks like getting to work from home and choose your travel schedule!