Categorized | Telecommuting

Telecommuting

It’s no secret that a growing trend in the “conventional job” scene is the idea of working from home, but for someone else in a more or less “conventional” job (i.e. employee for employer).  Some telecommuting jobs are 100% work-at-home and others are part-time (some from home, some from office).

There are challenges associated with telecommuting, but technology such as instant messaging and always-on VOIP or video-conferencing is able to substantially reduce these challenges.

Some individuals work better on their own, with team coordination handled through emails or project management software.  Others struggle with the feeling of being “disconnected” or have difficulty staying motivated and on-task.

Lifestyle considerations are key elements that encourage people to try telecommuting.  Saving a 2 hour, two-way commute adds a full 4 hours a day, 20 hours a week, or 1040 (!) hours a year to a person’s daytime life.  What could you do with an extra thousand hours this coming year?  Or if your commute is a more typical one hour that’s still 500 hours!

Some jobs lend themselves to telecommuting while others do not.  I’m a web developer, so my job is a classic case of “telecommuting prime property.”  For the past 10 years I’ve enjoyed flexibility — a good mix of working from home and joining another team in the office.

Sometimes that “instant on, always available” factor can hurt one’s ability to enjoy time truly “away from work” — this is a real factor, but it’s also true that if one feels more able to treat one’s work flexibly (i.e. leaving early to pick up the kids and then finishing the day from home) — it’s easier to take some of “my own time” to kick back something that really helps out the team at work.  It’s a give and take, and the balance can lead to more overall enjoyment of one’s job.

Employers can also potentially improve job satisfaction, employee retention, and compensation expectations by relaxing their employee’s “in office” requirements (say allowing 2 out of 5 days per week from an established home office) — thus reducing costs associated with turnover and disgruntled or simply “unsatisfied” workers.

What are your thoughts on telecommuting?  Any interesting stories relating to jobs that one “would never think” could be done remotely but you actually pull off surprisingly well? How about horror stories of bad experiences (your own or a team-mate or employee — keep it friendly with no specifics).

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