The Telecommuter

A new prospect of working has been gaining popularity among the millions of people who commute daily to their jobs. Many individuals know about the routine of having to get up early and rush out the door to sprint across the imaginary finish line that is the office door. Then the person is to work a strict 9-5 shift with little or no flexibility. The rigid workweek is ok for some who like to adhere to schedules, but for the vast majority there is an imbalance in time available between working and at home. With most families having at least two required incomes to make ends meet it causes an intense struggle to maintain busy work schedules along with even busier family schedules.

To help remedy that many companies are allowing, at least in part, their employees to work a few days per week from a remote location. Those people are often referred to as “telecommuters”. If a person used that term several years ago, most people would assume that the employee just has a long commute to the office. However, there has been more research on working habits that require an expansion of what a telecommuter is defined as. The biggest change in the term is how in the past it was understood to be individuals who commuted either alone or in a carpool that traveled longer than average distances between home and the office. Now, the term also includes individuals working from outside the confines of the office environment either at home or at a remote location.

After sifting through several online articles there seems to be a common element that should catch the attention of many upper-management; that element is higher productivity. From Forbes magazine to the Entrepreneur there are many indicators that people who work from home or a remote location are often much happier and more productive than their counterparts who work at the office. These same telecommuters tend to also put in more time than the traditional employee. There are many ideas that would come into play to explain the reasoning behind this, but in my opinion it’s because of the flexibility.

After having many fights against that “2 o’clock” feeling I had when working in an office environment I had to believe that there was a better solution. For me, it was working in part from home if possible. After leaving a company I had worked, for over ten years, I took an intern position my last year of college. In addition to learning many great skills to carry forward to other careers I also had my first experience in telecommuting. I worked from home on Mondays and Fridays then worked the other three days at the office.

I immediately went from overly stressed and run ragged to having it all pulled together (for the most part). I was able to have two days in which I had complete flexibility to work and get all of the things I needed to do for myself and my family done as well. No more skipping lunch to only use that time to run errands or go to appointments. I just simply scheduled both errands and work around me and my day. There were no more times during the day in which I felt like I just wanted to crawl under my desk. I simply knew when I was most productive and worked in personal items in those not so productive times throughout the day. It also helped me keep the day broke up into different tasks throughout the day which not only made my days fly by, but kept me engaged during the day.

So, we have heard just a few of the benefits for me working from home; what does this translate really to the employer. Along with higher productivity they can look forward to, this vacancy at the office also translates into savings in overhead. There is less power consumed, less property to maintain, in many cases there are also savings attributed to less compensation incidents reported and the list of positives goes on. With all of these positive things being bounced around why aren’t companies jumping on the telecommuter bandwagon? Well, most of the reason is the fact that people aren’t always there at their beckon call as well as the lack trust between the employer and the employee.   Most people may argue that “I want to be able to walk to your office when I have a question,” but in all actuality those same people who just sat a few feet away from me most always picked up the phone to call me instead of coming by. So, is it just to keep tabs or is it just the satisfying fact that they have your complete focus for eight or more consecutive hours? We may never know.

For whatever reasoning there is, the fact is, that people can be as deceitful in person as they are from a remote location. If a person has it in their will to do wrong, they will no matter what the situation is. Also having worked in a “limited trust” environment for all of those years it tends to create hostile work environments in which the employee looses motivation to complete good work for the company.

I am not saying that every company can or should allow telecommuting. However, for instances where the employee doesn’t need to be around the office why not allow them to finish that from home so they can devote more time with their families? Then the employee can devote the required time for meeting and working with their teams when necessary. However, as technologies change how we do things we have to change the way we expect those same things to be done. Telecommuting is one of those ideologies that is quickly growing in popularity. So why limit your employee’s creativity and productivity between brick walls. Allow them the time they need and they will give you all the time you want.

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