- News & Analysis
- Research Center
The Telework Research Center reports that only 2 percent of the U.S. workforce — 2.8 million people — identifies home as their primary location of work. Meanwhile, a much greater number — 17.2 billion people — work from home at least one day a week. Moreover, 40 percent of U.S. workers indicate that they can do their job from home, which is a trend supported by the growth of informational jobs over industrial jobs.
There have been many articles written about telecommuting benefits, challenges and strategies for the employer and employee. Some of these articles contain misperceptions about telecommuting, including one by the Vancouver Sun that reports Working from home raises productivity, once crumbs are cleared from keyboards: Lack of chit-chat from adjoining cubicles reduces the chances of distraction.
First, the article explores employers’ fears of telecommuting, including:
- Lost control (more difficult to supervise).
- Lack of communication.
- Breech in security and confidentiality.
- Decrease in team morale and loyalty to the company.
None of these fears can be questioned. But then, the article discusses ways to convince your boss to allow telecommuting in spite of these fears. In summary, the benefits discussed include:
- Increased flexibility in work hours to accommodate personal needs.
- Increased productivity.
At initial glance, these benefits seem plausible. However, a couple of the supporting points made are not entirely accurate.
Not only do you seem healthier working from home, taking fewer sick days, but, inexplicably, there are fewer problems with that other office malaise: technology.
In fact, your office-issued equipment seems to work better when it’s plugged into your personal grid, maybe because you are finally forced to troubleshoot or maybe because fewer wires are crossed on a network of one.
Some companies may have minor bandwidth issues with all their employees in office accessing the Internet at one time. However, the speed offered in many residential areas does not compare to those offered by a large business network. Technology, specifically the Internet, could actually become a challenge for a telecommuter.
Another inaccurate point made:
There are no distractions when you work from home. Except maybe the letter carrier and the kid collecting for soccer camp. No chit-chat with cubicle neighbours, and no dedicated coffee breaks or lunch hours, either, certainly not those dictated by union contract or years of routine.
There are different types of distractions that occur when you work from home. It might not be the gossiping neighbor, but could be household chores, a child, a sick spouse, roommates, the television or many other similar personal distractions. These distractions and the need to learn how to be self-motivated can also become a challenge to a telecommuter.
Although this spotlights some potential challenges for the telecommuter, there are benefits to the employer and organization that are not completely covered in the article, including:
- Decreased expenses associated with real estate costs and other overhead.
- Increased incentive used to recruit top talent.
Telecommuting is without a doubt on the rise and continuing to gain in popularity. Company leaders will need to continue to consider this as an option as the cost of living and travel increases. Telecommuting can work if the company goes in prepared. When the time comes to implement telecommuting options, companies should consider how to train managers on how to lead virtual teams and employees on how to work to create structure that promotes maximum productivity and work-life balance.
Marci Paino is a senior instructional designer at Intrepid Learning Solutions. She earned her Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation from the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), M.A. in educational technology from San Diego State University and B.S. in organizational communication, learning and design from Ithaca College. Paino volunteers for ISPI, serving on several committees, forming the Emerging Professional Committee, and earning the Presidential Citation in 2009 and 2010. She is also a member of the eLearning Guild and American Society for Training and Development. Paino has written for PerformanceXpress, Performance Improvement Journal and Distance-Educator.com. She can be reached at editor@CLOMedia.com.
Latest posts by Marci Paino (see all)
- Growing up Gen Y: The Impact of Being Immersed in Technology - July 30, 2012
- A Job Search Guide for Gen Y Learning Leaders, Part 5 - June 1, 2012
- A Job Search Guide for Gen Y Learning Leaders, Part 4 - April 23, 2012
Tagged with: telecommuting
- December 2013 (2)
- November 2013 (7)
- October 2013 (11)
- September 2013 (8)
- August 2013 (10)
- July 2013 (8)
- June 2013 (10)
- May 2013 (11)
- April 2013 (8)
- March 2013 (12)
- February 2013 (10)
- January 2013 (8)
- December 2012 (4)
- November 2012 (8)
- October 2012 (9)
- September 2012 (10)
- August 2012 (9)
- July 2012 (10)
- June 2012 (13)
- May 2012 (15)
- April 2012 (12)
- March 2012 (11)
- February 2012 (10)
- January 2012 (12)
- December 2011 (8)
- November 2011 (10)
- October 2011 (11)
- September 2011 (11)
- August 2011 (9)
- July 2011 (10)
- June 2011 (9)
- May 2011 (10)
- April 2011 (9)
- March 2011 (12)
- February 2011 (6)
- January 2011 (10)
- December 2010 (6)
- November 2010 (3)
Tagsalignment business acumen CEO change classroom learning CLO collaboration collaborative learning communication e-learning effectiveness efficiency forecasts gen-y generations goal-setting goals impact impact of learning informal learning innovation leadership leadership development learning delivery level 1 level 4 LMS management measurement metrics and measurement millennials organization goals outcomes Outcome statement plan prioritization senior leaders social learning social workforce society stakeholder stakeholders strategic alignment TDRP technology