Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly popular way to work from home. There are many different types of jobs that can be done remotely, and some people might find that they enjoy the freedom of working from home. Telecommuting has both pros and cons. In this article, we’ll look at all these aspects of telecommuting: definition, history, features, and pros and cons.
What is Telecommuting & How Does It Work?
Telecommuting is the practice of working from a remote location, such as one’s home, co-working space, or a coffee shop, rather than from a central office. It uses technology to connect employers and employees. This includes the use of telephones, email, online chat programs, and video conferencing platforms. As you can see from this description, telecommuting is a concept similar to remote work or working from home. Many industries like sales, marketing, customer services, IT, and publishing offer telecommuting jobs.
Access to the internet has made communications virtually seamless. Workers can now connect to their colleagues and boss with just a click of a button with software like Zoom, Slack, or Google Teams. They can also work with group projects and keep track of each other’s work via various project management apps and software.
Telecommuting can be either full-time or part-time. Big companies like Amazon and Facebook allow their employees to telecommute on a permanent basis. These employees work exclusively outside of the office but might visit the office for special occasions like events or big meetings. Full-time commuting is more suited for people who can do their job anywhere; these mainly include jobs in the IT field. Part-time telecommuting is a combination of working from home and working from office. It’s a type of hybrid work model. The way employees work would depend on the company’s telecommuting policy; for example, an employee might come to the office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and work from home on Monday and Friday.
The Past, Present, and Future of Telecommuting
The term ‘telecommuting’ was coined in 1972 by NASA engineer Jack Nilles, who believed that it was an innovative way of working that would provide a solution to traffic and the shortage of nonrenewable resources. Later, in 1979, Frank Schiff published an article in The Washington Post explaining how working from home would reduce gasoline consumption, traffic congestion, air pollution, as well as employees’ mental and physical stress.
Over the last few years, telecommuting has become an increasingly popular way of working. The world saw a drastic change in the job market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, only a minute percentage of the population engaged in remote work. Back in 2017, only 3% of full-time US employees reported that they mainly worked from home. But after 2019, these numbers saw a quick rise, with nearly a quarter of the population starting to telecommute. In fact, according to a 2021 survey conducted for the World Economic Forum, most employees wanted flexible working to be the norm, and 30% of respondents claimed that they would look for another job if they were required to return to the office full-time. Moreover, Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics, predicts that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month.
What are the Pros & Cons of Telecommuting?
Pros of Telecommuting
- Flexible Schedule
Telecommuting allows you greater freedom in your work hours and work location. It also gives you more flexibility in balancing your personal and work life. When you are telecommuting, you can easily take time to fulfill your personal obligations, like picking up your child from school or dropping off lunch for your sick mum.
- Saves Money
Telecommuting can save money for both employees and employers. Employees do not have to commute every day, which saves them money. If telecommuting is full-time, the employers do not have to maintain a permanent office and supplies, so it’s a big profit for them as well.
- Saves Time
When you are telecommuting, you don’t have to waste hours and hours on the commute to office, especially if your office is far away from your home. You can also say goodbye to annoying traffic jams.
- Limited Exposure to Sickness
At the office, you are more exposed to sicknesses (those that spread easily like COVID-19, common cold, flu, etc.) as you share space with colleagues. You may also be exposed to germs and viruses if you use public transport for your commute.
- Increases Productivity
Several research studies have shown that employees are more productive when they telecommute. According to a research study by Owl Labs, remote employees were 22% happier outside the traditional office environments and stayed in their jobs longer. Meanwhile, a study by Prodoscore showed a 5% increase in productivity of Prodoscore users who worked from home during the pandemic. In general, employees tend to be more productive because they are happier outside the office and are not distracted by co-workers.
Cons of Telecommuting
- There can be a lot of distractions at a home office – noisy kids, pets, neighbors, roommates, etc.
- Less contact with the outside world
- IT-related issues may be difficult to handle
- Employers might find it hard to supervise their employees
- Employees might find it difficult to separate work hours and personal life, leading to over-working
Setting up an office in your home, working according to a schedule, and going out occasionally with your friends and family are some simple steps you can take to avoid some of these harmful aspects of telecommuting.
How to Quickly Decide if Telecommuting is Right for You?
Telecommuting would be right for you if you:
- Have a job that can be done from anywhere
- Have a long commute to the office
- Don’t like to be distracted by your co-workers’ problems
- Prefer working in an isolated environment
- Have space in your home to set up a dedicated home office
- Don’t have many distractions at home
- Are an introvert who hates going out of your home
Telecommuting might not be a good idea for you if you:
- Have a job that’s difficult to do outside the workplace (medical field, construction field, etc.)
- Have walking distance to the office
- Love to interact with people every day
- Thrive in a busy workplace
- Have many distractions at home – kids, pets, noisy neighbors, etc.
- Don’t have space to set up a home office where you can concentrate exclusively on your work
How to Find a Telecommuting Job or Company for Your Skillset?
In this digital era, finding a telecommuting job that suits your skillset is not a difficult task. If you spend a few hours researching on the internet, you can find a telecommuting job for your skills. But remember, telecommuting jobs have a lot of competition as they are not bound by geographical restrictions, so you will have to get creative with your job applications. Sites like Remote.co, FlexJobs, Upwork, and We Work Remotely are dedicated to remote work. You can also use social media sites like Facebook (especially Facebook Groups related to digital nomads and remote work) and LinkedIn to find a telecommuting job.
There are various job scams related to remote work. Many scams promise you easy money from telecommuting jobs, but what they are really doing is trying to rob you of your money or get your personal information. Be aware of positions that offer salaries that are too good to be true. Always research the company before you apply, and don’t ever pay money (they might call this a security deposit) no matter how much they ask.
Conclusion: Don’t Hesitate to Start Telecommuting
Telecommuting has been a topic of debate for a long time. Some people believe that it is the future of work, while others think it will make employees less productive and more detached from their company. The truth is that telecommuting has its advantages and disadvantages. It can be used to increase the productivity and engagement of employees, but it also has the potential to decrease productivity and engagement. It all depends on the personality of the employees. If you are someone who hates long commutes, traffic jams, and distracting colleagues but loves to work independently without the supervision of anyone, then don’t hesitate to start telecommuting!