Telecommuting, the future of working, remote working, telecommuting, or telework, is a modern work arrangement in which workers don’t commute to an employer’s office, like an office building, store, or warehouse. Instead, they work in their own homes, using modern conveniences like the telephone and personal computers to get the work done. This arrangement allows an individual to be his or her own manager, without having to report to anyone. With telecommuting jobs, some telecommuting workers even choose to supplement their income at another location. In some instances, an individual will work one job and then take a telecommuting job at another location, taking advantage of a company’s telecommuting policies.
Most employers prefer to hire a telecommuter who works independently. The advantages of remote working include fewer risks to the employer from the remote employee’s poor performance, reduced costs, the convenience of a flexible working style, reduced time away from the family, and a safe working environment. It is much easier for a person to make money from a telecommuting position than it is from a traditional office environment. In most cases, when a traditional office environment is required, hours are more traditional, the workload is more repetitive, there is less on-the-job training needed, and the schedule is more established, which may cause employee burnout.
Telecommuting employees can benefit from having access to company resources via a computer and the Internet, but the actual working of the job will be less familiar to the remote worker than it would be in a traditional setting. Some tasks are easier to do from a computer than from a real-world situation, for example, writing. Also, many companies provide in-person meetings that allow the remote employee to get a feel for the day’s assignments and progress, but this requires travel and preparation time and may not be feasible for all employees. Similarly, some companies provide telecommuting workers with their own computers; however, because these computers are usually not as powerful as a desktop, they will usually be less efficient than a real computer at times.
In a telecommuting position, the main advantage is the freedom to work remotely that it affords. Remote workers enjoy the ability to set their own pace, choose their own working environment, and have greater control over their workload than they would in a traditional office environment. The disadvantages to working remotely are similar to those of working in a traditional setting: the team members need to know how the assignment will be completed, that deadlines are missed, and that the project needs to be finished on time. With telecommuting jobs, there may also be the temptation to work on personal projects or simply to fill time.
As with any new working arrangement, many companies take some time to get used to the idea. A prime example of this is a telecommuting position in which all team members live in the same workplace. It may not be possible for every employee to begin the telecommuting practice right away, and it is important for team members to become accustomed to the idea slowly. When a telecommuter position makes sense for a team, a few days of practice at the office can be helpful, so that when the time eventually comes, there is no sudden, negative impact on the team as a unit.
It can be difficult for some people to adjust to a remote working lifestyle, so it is important for those who wish to use remote work environments to allow themselves time to get acclimated before beginning the practice. For those who find it natural to be in the midst of their team members and to communicate through their computer monitors, a few days at the office should make them ready for the practice. This will also let them take a look at the various advantages and disadvantages of remote working and decide if it’s something they could make part of their normal routine. This is the best way for remote working to really begin to make a difference in the way that team members interact and collaborate, allowing the business model to work as intended.