By Liz Krause
Telecommuting from home is not for everyone, but as 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 to telecommute as an option in the workplace.
A friend of mine recently told me of a conversation she had with her boss about the possibility of changing the company structure to allow all employees to work remotely. Although she would have loved to work from home, she oddly enough found herself advising against the work arrangement.
When I asked why, she 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 experience. Having been self-employed with my husband for over ten 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.
1. 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, it 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 service provider to assign remote employees direct phone numbers, or just as an extension of the main company phone line.
2. Fewer 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 clerk 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 how 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.
3. 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 can mean two different things. It could be regarding IT security, and it can also be regarding personal privacy. Although both are relevant, I’m referring to personal privacy. Workers who spend 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 who 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.
1. 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. 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 it's 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 afterward 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 higher 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 to stay happy and content with their job.
No matter which category you fall in, it is essential to know the pros and cons before 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.
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This was contributed by writer Liz Krause who is a professed telecommuting addict. She currently works for a company which is a SIP Trunk Service Provider offering Lync sip trunk TLS over the internet a useful telephony tool for companies which employ remote workers.