April 29, 2010

Breaking out of the Cubicle: Pros & Cons of Telecommuting

BY John Paul Narowski IN Productivity One Comment

Busting out your computer and working from home has never been easier with computers and Internet speeds progressing every day.

You don’t have to own your own business or be a freelancer to work from home.  Many people have worked out telecommuting agreements with their employers and spend their workdays at home instead of at the office.  The telecommuting model has grown in popularity yet many people are asking themselves, “Is working from home for me?”  Let’s find out:

The Pros

Work in Your PJs

Telecommuting is the dream for many us who wish to escape the dress codes and suits of daily office life.  Using technology to work from home would allow more flexibility in our schedules and open up opportunities for a better work-life balance.

No Commute

The ten second walk to your basement is about as easy as it gets.   That means less time spent in the morning getting ready and traveling to work, less gas and auto maintenance costs, less stress from brutal commutes and less pollution for ol’ Mother Earth.

Happy Workers

Many employers find that by allowing their workers to telecommute, results in a happier and more productive workforce.  You don’t get people burning time talking to co-workers about non-work issues.  You also don’t lose workers who have to relocate, are unable to easily get to the office due to medical issues and so on.  Offering telecommuting is one heck of a recruiting tool!

The Cons

It’s Not For Every Business:  Some businesses are not cut out to allow their employees to telecommute.  It’s better suited for so called “knowledge workers” who use the phone, computer and fax as their tools.  Ford Motor Company can’t exactly have assembly line workers working at home, right?

It’s Not For Every Worker

The worker and employer must be honest with themselves about the quality of work done and the kind of person they are.  Some people need structure and a boss looking over their shoulder in order to get things done.  If you’re not a self-starter who finds it hard to perform well, telecommuting is most likely not going to be for you.

Less Personal Contact

Some workers need to be around others or they get cabin fever.  You will get contact through the phone, IM, email and what not but you won’t be around your coworkers and friends.  If you can’t deal with these restrictions, then you are most likely cubicle bound.

Out of Sight

Many workers begin telecommuting and then find that they are no longer in the spotlight when it comes to their bosses.  If you’re angling for a promotion and want to show your boss how hard you are working, telecommuting is probably not the best strategy.

Right for You?

Telecommuting is not for everyone, but if it fits your job, your employer is cool with it and you are honest with yourself, it can be a godsend.  If your employer does not offer this option but you want it, draw up a plan and pitch it to your boss.  Start slow with maybe one day at home and prove to your boss that you don’t need to be in the office to make it work.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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