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        The Advantages and Disadvantages of Telecommuting

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        Another AHBBO Article
        The Telecommuting Alternative

        © 2013 Elena Fawkner

        So, here you are, Sunday night again, and your thoughts turn
        to the working week ahead. Pretty soon your mind turns to
        the Monday morning commute.  And the drive home again.
        What you wouldn't give to be able to work from home instead
        of downtown, you think to yourself for the umpteenth time this
        year.  How much more you could accomplish if you could use
        the time you spend sitting in traffic doing something that's actually
        productive!  After all, there's no reason why you MUST work
        in a corporate office.  Not all the time anyway.  Well, what are
        you going to do about it?  Maybe the time has come to bite the
        bullet and make a proposal to your boss that you both give
        telecommuting a try.

        Before you launch into such a discussion though, a word to the
        wise.  Many employers are leery about employees working
        from home.  Not that they would come right out and say they
        don't trust you to do what you're paid to do, but, well, how
        would it WORK exactly?  So take some time to plan your
        proposal and anticipate the kinds of objections and concerns
        you might expect to encounter.

        In this article, we take a look at the pros and cons of
        telecommuting and some of the issues that can arise.  By
        taking the time to work through these issues, you will be
        well placed to make a considered, balanced and, most
        importantly, accepted proposal.
         

        THE ADVANTAGES OF TELECOMMUTING

        => Improved Productivity

        By far the greatest advantage of telecommuting is increased
        productivity.  Telecommuters invariably say that the time they
        save not having to commute, coupled with fewer interruptions,
        means that they get more done in their workday than ever
        before.

        Not only that, studies have shown that telecommuters are
        more likely to spend a spare hour in the evening or a few on
        the weekends on work since it is there to be done.  While
        this may be good news for employers of salaried employees,
        some employers will be concerned not to infringe overtime
        rules though, so be mindful of this potential pothole.

        => Retention of Valued Personnel

        The availability of telecommuting as an option means that the
        employer may well retain valued personnel under circumstances
        when the employee may otherwise be forced to resign due to
        changing life circumstances.  Obvious examples include
        pregnancy and relocation to accompany a transferred spouse.

        => Reduction in Office Overheads

        If the business has a number of personnel who telecommute,
        there are cost savings to be made in office overheads.  Smaller
        office space can be negotiated as well as fewer paid carparks.

        => Attract Quality Recruits

        If the business has a telecommuting policy, this will be
        attractive to many prospective employees, allowing the
        employer to better attract more quality recruits.

        => Reduce Absenteeism

        The flexibility inherent in working from home translates to
        reduced absenteeism.  No longer does the working parent
        have to take a "sick" day to care for a sick child.

        => Broadens Labor Pool

        Telecommuting allows the employer to recruit from a
        broader labor pool than would otherwise be the case if the
        employee had to travel to the employer's office each day.
        Geographical boundaries become less significant for one
        thing, but special needs personnel, such as those with
        physical disabilities who prefer not to work in a traditional
        office environment, or with chronic illnesses, can still
        participate in the workforce.  This allows the employer
        to recruit from the broadest talent pool possible.
         

        THE DISADVANTAGES OF TELECOMMUTING

        The disadvantages of telecommuting largely fall on the
        employee rather than the employer, and include:

        => Isolation

        One of the reasons you will be more productive working
        from home is that you will have fewer interruptions.
        That, of course, is a double edged sword.  You may
        find yourself missing those drop in visits and gatherings
        at the water cooler that you think of now as
        interruptions.

        => Out of the Loop

        You will also be out of the loop with what is going on at
        the office.  This makes it difficult to participate in the
        office politics that can be so crucial to the wellbeing
        of your career.

        => Propensity to Overwork

        The fact that you are living and working in the same
        space makes it less easy to turn work off at the end of the
        day.  Say what you like about your evening commute,
        it at least signals the end of the workday.  You may find
        yourself working at 10:00 at night just because you can.

        This can quickly lead to a lack of balance between
        your personal and business lives, the very thing you
        were perhaps hoping to redress by making the move to
        working from home.

        => Invisibility Factor

        You should be alert to the fact that not being in the office
        could lead to something of an "out of sight, out of mind"
        situation.  You need to be certain that your work is
        visibile, even if you are not.
         

        ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED WITH YOUR EMPLOYER

        Now that you have a grip on the pros and cons of telecommuting
        you are in a position to begin making your pitch.  While you can
        certainly use the pros in support of your argument in favor of
        telecommuting, be ready to discuss the cons too.  After all, the
        decision to telecommute must be one that works for you AND
        your employer.  Your employer will feel more comfortable
        with the idea if you demonstrate that you are alert to the
        downside.  This shows that your proposal is considered and well
        thought-through.

        In addition to the pros and cons discussed above, be prepared
        to address the following issues which your employer is likely to
        raise.

        => Why Do You Want to Telecommute?

        Even if the primary reason is because you want to spend more
        time with your young children, answer this question with a
        secondary, mutually-beneficial answer, such as improved
        productivity.  You know that being home for your children
        when they return from school won't undermine your work
        performance (in fact, you plan to work for a few hours after
        they're in bed which will more than compensate), but don't
        expect your boss to believe you.  Focus instead on a win-win
        reason such as improved productivity as a result of fewer
        interruptions and being able to work when you would otherwise
        be commuting.

        => What Happens When I Need You Here For Client Meetings?

        One thing you may want to consider, at least in the beginning,
        is easing into telecommuting by working from home, say, two
        days a week, and in the office for three, gradually moving to
        more time at home and less in the office over time.  Under this
        type of arrangement, it's easy to schedule client meetings for
        those days when you are working.  Sometimes, of course,
        that won't be convenient for the client.  At these times, you
        need to be flexible.  You may have to come into the office
        for a morning or an afternoon on a day when you would
        normally be working from home.

        => Many Clients Will Not Be Comfortable Dealing With Someone
        Who Works From Home

        There is no need for a client to even know you work out of
        your house if you don't want them to.  All that is required is
        a diversion of calls made to your office phone to your home office
        phone.  It goes without saying, of course, that professionalism
        demands that you have a completely separate communciations
        system in your home office from your home.  You need a
        dedicated phone line for your work and family members
        should be under STRICT instructions that that line is to be
        answered by no-one but you.  If your boss calls your home
        office number and your five year old answers, expect
        problems.  Rightly so, too.  Same goes for your spouse.
        That's what voicemail is for.

        => What Will Take Priority: Your Work or Taking Care of Your
        Children?

        Do not believe for a minute that telecommuting means the end
        of daycare.  If your kids are in daycare now, they will probably
        still need to be in daycare if you work from home.  You simply
        cannot attend to a five year old and work effectively at the same
        time.  So, do not think of telecommuting as an alternative to
        day care.  It is not.  At best, telecommuting will give you an
        additional couple of hours a day with your kids; the time you
        would normally have spent commuting to and from the office.

        => What Will It Cost the Company?

        A recent study by Forrester Research showed that the
        average initial investment by the employer on equipping
        an employee to work from home was $4,000.  Annual
        maintenance costs were around $2,500.  If you think this is
        likely to be a major obstacle, consider using your personal
        resources to meet at least some of this cost.  After all,
        you will be saving money in terms of commuting costs,
        lunches and work clothes.  If you already have a personal
        computer at home, perhaps you should offer to use that
        for your work, at least until both parties have given this
        telecommuting business a try and are happy to continue
        on with it.

        As with any negotiation, the best outcome is one with a
        win-win solution.Telecommuting has many advantages
        for employer and employee alike.  But it is not for
        everyone.  If you are not self-disciplined, if you need
        supervision to keep you on track, then it's not for you.
        It's probably not best suited for projects that require
        you to work as part of a team if that means you need
        to be sitting around a table together for much of the
        time.

        But most importantly, telecommuting requires a relationship
        of trust and goodwill between employer and employee.  If
        your employer doesn't trust you, then you will have an uphill
        battle getting this thing to fly.  But then again, if your employer
        doesn't trust you, you have an uphill battle period and it may
        be that you should be looking elsewhere in any event.
        Fortunately, however, there are many more enlightened
        employers who understand that employees treated with
        trust and respect will return the favor.

        _________________________

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        ** Reprinting of this article is welcome! **
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        Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online. Best business ideas and opportunities for your home-based or online business.

        Copyright 1998-2017, AHBBO.com. All rights are reserved. Thursday, 21-Jan-2021 03:49:59 CST

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