Copyright © 2004, Vishal P. Rao
There are many mistaken definitions of what telecommuting
means. The very name gives the impression of someone
answering work telephone calls from home or typing furiously
away at their computers.
Traditionally, telecommuting meant that an employee was
linked from home to their company’s computer network. But
today telecommuting is much broader than that and really
includes anyone who does even a portion of his or her work
at home. This can include the computer or telephone work the
name implies, but it can also mean researching, working on
drawings, or performing other types of information analysis.
Telecommuting really is as simple as a person working from
somewhere outside the office.
There is also a misconception among many of today’s workers
that you have to own a business to work from your home. This
just isn’t always the case anymore. More and more people are
able to perform their jobs from home. Now more than ever the
business world is realizing the variety of benefits
telecommuting can have on companies and their personnel.
Exactly what are the benefits of telecommuting? Here are
just a few:
1. Less time for commuting means more time with the family.
Even if a worker’s commute is only 30 minutes each way,
which isn’t much in today’s business world, not having to
take this commute can add an extra 5 hours a week an
employee can spend with his or her family. This is 5 hours
the employee wasn’t previously working or doing personal
things. Just 5 hours of dead time during the week getting
from one spot to another.
2. Telecommuting can also provide a person with the ability
to handle personal appointments without having to take
entire days off.
Employees can take an hour or two through the day to go to
doctor appointments or school conferences close to their
homes and simply make up the time later in the day. This can
equal higher productivity for employees.
3. Less commuting can reduce an employee’s costs.
For many of today’s employees, the price of gas and car
maintenance is on the rise. These costs associated with
going to the office can be greatly reduced by telecommuting
even a couple of days a week. Many workers today even say
they would take a job making a little less money if they had
the opportunity to telecommute. This can truly be a win-win
situation for the employer and employee.
4. Less distraction equals more work.
It’s no secret that often the hardest place to work is at
the office. There is a world of distractions there ranging
from ringing telephones to chatty co-workers. Even
telecommuting part of the time can reduce these distractions
and make work more efficient. And if everyone comes to the
office at least one common day a week, meetings and review
sessions can be held on this day and the rest of the week
left for more intense work.
There are some challenges to telecommuting for both
employees and their companies, but if you really want to
telecommute most of these can be handled with a few simple
If your employer feels face-to-face communication is
important for your business, suggest that all of the
employees come to the office on at least one common day a
week. Meetings can be held on these days, and you can go
over what you’ve accomplished while on your telecommuting
2. Set and track goals and progress.
One of the biggest fears of employers when it comes to the
idea of telecommuting is that they don’t have any way to
monitor what the employee is doing through the workday. It
takes a lot of trust to assume an employee is hard at work
when they are out of the boss’s sights. Help eliminate this
concern by coming up with ways to track and share your
progress. This will also help you make sure you are making
the most of your opportunity while still fulfilling your
3. Delineate between your workspace and your personal space.
It’s just good practice to have a spot designated for your
work. Even if it is the kitchen table, set yourself up in
the morning and pack your things back up in the evening when
work time is finished. This will help you stay on track when
working, and not be tempted to work when it is your personal
time. It will also serve as an indicator to your family of
when you are working and preferably not to be disturbed.
If you are looking for more information on telecommuting,
such as how to approach your boss with the idea, you can
contact The American Telecommuting Association for some more
information. They sell some booklets on telecommuting
topics, but their site
(http://www.knowledgetree.com/ata.html) also has free