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The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

By Liz Krause

Telecommuting from home is not for everyone, but as IP technology such as IP phone systems and mobile apps continue to improve and gain popularity in businesses, more employees are finding themselves in a position to choose telecommuting as an option in the workplace.

A friend of mine recently told me of a conversation she had with her boss about possibility changing the company structure to allow all employees to work remote.   Although she would have loved to work from home, she oddly enough found herself advising that he not do so at that particular time.

When I asked why, she simply answered, “The employees are not ready for telecommuting, it would do more harm than good.” 

This got me thinking of the overall concept of working from home beyond my own personal experience.   Having been self-employed with my husband for over 10 years, working from a home office is something I personally treasure – but this is not the case for everyone.

Here are some considerations to take in mind when thinking of telecommuting:

The Good Side of Working from Home

Less overhead for the corporate office

When a company begins to allow their employees to work from home a funny thing occurs – less overhead is required.   Suddenly less office space is needed along with fewer desks, fewer printers and less electricity, and this all translates into lower office expenses.

For companies which invest in IP technologies for their phone systems such as SIP Trunking will greatly reduce expenditures as they can host their remote employee’s  phone system through the internet in the cloud – thus avoiding any need of purchasing extra phone lines.   Businesses can work with their SIP Service Provider to assign remote employees direct phone numbers, or just as an extension off the main company phone line.

Less Distractions

No one can deny it; working at an office with other workers will lend itself to distractions throughout the day.  Whether talking with the mail carrier or your co-worker in the next cubicle, the fact of the matter is we have more events occurring around us that cause us to take our focus off of our work.  Even something as simple as a co-worker walking back and forth down the hallway opening and closing the big heavy door –it’s a distraction.

Working from home, assuming you don’t have a group of kids underfoot, automatically removes those office distractions.   No more 15 minute Monday morning catch ups of on everyone spent their weekends, no more small talk about the latest office gossip – it’s just you and your computer and four walls – that really are soundproof.

Greater time efficiency

Workers who are often holding a crazy schedule of meetings with clients and prospects can have their home their central “home base” so to speak.   Working at an office, would mean always heading back to the office and then heading home, potentially adding wasted commuting time onto the day that could be spent at their home office working on new or established deals.

Privacy

Privacy can mean two different things.  It could be read in terms of IT security, and it can also be seen in terms of personal privacy.   Although both are relevant, I’m referring to personal privacy.   Workers who require spending time on the phone with clients, will appreciate the fact no one is overhearing a conversation of private nature – such as price quotes, negotiations, or even conversations with other employees such as new hires.

When lacking privacy, employees can often feel more restrained and under pressure in these circumstances.   By providing a personal environment which lends itself to privacy, employees which require such privacy can now have it by working from home.

The Downside of Working from Home

Telecommuting does come at a cost – and it is important to understand these before you embark on a telecommuting campaign.

You are not your own boss

One of the misconceptions people often have when working from home is the notion they are their own boss – unless of course they truly are their own boss.   If you do not fall in this category, I can guarantee that those around you do.

I cannot even begin to count how many times friends or family have said, “You can work later – why don’t you just come join us now”.   Working from home still means 40 hours a week and can often translate into even longer hours than that.   You still have to report in and attend meetings, even if as a phone conference meeting, or as a desktop sharing or video conference meeting.

Some companies will expect you to work 9 AM to 5 PM no exceptions.  While others will give you the flexibility to hold your own hours as long as it’s 40 hours and your work is getting done on time.

Based on personal experience however, I have found working at home tends to lead to putting in more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day.   When working at home, you are more comfortable and can get dinner, yet find yourself heading back to your computer afterwards just to, “finish what I was working on”, unlike at the office where once it’s time to leave – everything can seem to wait until the next morning.

Telecommuting is not for the faint of heart.   Some people can thrive in a home environment while others will only find themselves faced with a greater number of distractions.  In a home environment, employees will either be perfectly fine with no need of external motivation, but instead be able to wake up and start working with great vigor and enthusiasm, while others will find that they need the interpersonal stimulation supplied at the office in order to stay happy and content with their job.

No matter which category you fall in, it is important to know the pros and cons blue making a choice to work from home.  In the end if it affects your job performance, this will reflect poorly on you and potentially cost you your job.

This was contributed by writer Liz Krause who is a professed telecommuting addict.   She currently works for a company which is a Lync sip trunk TLS over the internet a useful telephony tool for companies which employ remote workers.

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4 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting”

  1. 1
    Dan Ross says:

    My department finally started a trial of telecommuting.

    While common for many organizations and departments there are advantages when people work together in the workplace. I find that Information is shared more frequently and people tend to bounce ideas off people on a seconds notice. Additionally, if someone overhears something, they can add value or point to another great resource. Within the group I work in, this happens ALOT!

    Another downside not pointed out is that, if you are out of sight and sound you can easily be out of mind when it comes time for layoffs. Demonstration of “getting stuff done” is essential when working from home because managers tend to protect their “fiefdom” that they create. When VPs don’t see people managing people oftentimes the manager is at risk of being let go him/herself.

    I am a fan of telecommuting but it doesn’t work for every situation. I DEFINITELY think it enables people to better manage the increasingly more difficult situation of work/life balance with dual income households.

    Dan Ross
    @BetterBizIdeas

  2. 2
    John Smith says:

    Incredibly insightful cheers, It looks like your trusty subscribers would possibly want considerably more content similar to this continue the good work.

  3. 3
    Amber King says:

    Although working at home poses a lot of benefits, it is different when you work in an office. Telecommuting is not for everyone especially telemarketing call center. Call centers require advance technology in order to provide quality service. It might work for others but not for contact centers.

  4. 4
    Valia says:

    You brought up some points I didn’t think of, like the less overhead concept. I made a work at home pros and cons article myself and brought up some of the same points and some different ones, here is my article: http://valiablogs.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/the-pros-and-cons-of-working-at-home/

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