Getting Out of the Office
Jon, a produce sales man, works from home attempting to make sales of his produce; he contacts former clients, calls prospective clients, and sends e-mails to confirm orders. Jon maintains records on his computer and has video conferences with his supervisors and colleagues. Jon is a telecommuter and he is working ideally for himself and his company. Getting out of the office is something many may dream of and companies would like to utilize to save cost. Unfortunately, many potential telecommuters could work outside the office but are unwilling. Some employees are just unable to maintain productiveness. Telecommuting is definitely a different form of work that can be problematic, but with the right preparation and some helpful tips, much of the workforce could take advantage of this non-traditional means of work.
Understanding the potential problems in telecommuting employers can assure worker productivity and their own ability as a company to telecommute successfully. Problems in working away from the office include not maintaining work and life boundaries, not finding a means to stay in touch with colleagues and supervisors, poor confidence in one’s ability to telecommute, and a lack of thought to what might happen (“Tips on How To Telecommute the Right Way”). Other problems mentioned include how a company will telecommute, who will telecommute, training, and a number of problems after telecommuting has begun that involves technology, home offices, and telecommuters losing company status (Pisckurich, Telecommuter Skills Training through Telecommuting Problems, 1996). Companies will have to make plans and screen applicants to overcome these problems. They will have to make clear policies and procedures. Jon always makes time for his family and so is not overburdened by his work. Jon has been working with his company for a long time, is fully capable to fulfill his tasks without monitoring, and has clear goals and procedures that have been discussed with his company. He has also begun to take classes that will familiarize him with the technology that is particular to telework. Our produce sales man has equipped himself with the necessary skills and habits to perform his job outside the office.
When employers understand the problems involved with telecommuting, they can implement training and conduct research into successful telecommuting. Training for telecommuting should involve candidates, management, and even those who will not be telecommuting (Piskurich, Management training through Non-Telecommuter training,). Training for those not telecommuting will aid in continued collaboration (Pisckurich, Non Telecommuter Training). An orientation in telecommuting for management will help them create a style of management that will fit the needs of telecommuters, how to manage, and how to keep teleworkers productive (Yu, 2008). Telecommuting candidates training should include technological skills, staying connected, and orientation in telecommuting (Piskurich, para. 42). Telecommuting has been around for a long time and the research on successful telework is huge. Companies can avoid failure by doing their homework.
Companies interested in telecommuting are hindered by misconceptions from everyone involved. A misconception on the part of management has been that constant monitoring is the only way to make sure teleworkers actually work. Experts have cited that goal making is the best way to go and constant monitoring is the worst (King). Companies need to define how much telecommuting will be done, and not imagine it will be all or nothing (Tips on How to Telecommute the Right Way). Teleworkers may need to spend a couple days of the week in the office or more to be successful and avoid loneliness (Conlin, 2009). Flexibility in telecommuting will keep it realistic, and giving employees goals to make instead of constantly worrying them about projects will add to their own confidence and improve morale.
Changing perception on the parts of management and potential teleworkers on what telework is and what management style is effective will aid companies in making policies and procedure for successful telecommuting. Companies will also need to decide how they will interact. In her article Leah Bartos quoting the president of the New Orleans chapter of the Human Resource Management Association, “the manager and employee will need a lot of personal interaction, maybe even more than they would have in an office environment” (2009). How managers stays in touch with employees will be up to their personal judgment. Mangers may prefer face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, or may be happy with instant messaging. Jon the produce sales man is not being constantly monitored and he still stays productive. Jon is aware of what his company expects of him and he still from time to time goes in the office to meet with colleagues and so does not feel disconnected or out of the loop. Our sales man is following a plan that successful telecommuter before him also followed.
Jon is a productive worker for his company and research has observed the possible reasons why. An assumption made by some has been that introverts would work more productively as a telecommuter, but to the contrary, research has found that persons with organizational skills and the extroverted typed personalities are more apt for the task (Conlin). The need for the teleworker to be self disciplined, self-motivated, and to connect with others are necessary for successful telecommuting. Another reason Jon makes a good telecommuter is that he has worked in his field for a long time. Many in management feel it is important that employees have the traditional setting of the office and its support systems before working from home (King). Our telecommuter has been working in the food industry for a long time and with a personality that pushes him to connect with others he is ideal to telecommute.
Any employee who can do a job as productively or more productively outside the office can telecommute. Working on the go has been done in multiple jobs (Piskurich, Jobs that Telecommute section, para. 1). Jobs that telecommute include IT, medical, clerical, and a host of others that are all on the job market today (CareerBuilder). The number of telecommuters is growing also and that is going to increase the demand for companies to offer telecommuting as it becomes more popular. A recent survey has shown that the numbers of telecommuting jobs have risen 43% percent from 2003 to 2008, most who only worked part time (Worldatwork Survey, 2009). Some jobs cannot telecommute and these are jobs such as receptionist or any jobs that requires daily interaction with people (Piskurich, Jobs That Telecommute, para. 5). Some may not be able to work outside of the office because of what their jobs responsibilities entail. Telecommuting is still the way the work world is going though in many jobs.
Telecommuting takes some imagination on the part of the company to integrate some jobs outside the office. Workers for a company called Sun have workstations for their telecommuter that keeps information at the company and helps maintain information and so keeps information secure (King). Companies will have to decide for themselves what kind of software and technology they will need to keep those outside the office collaborating, how to maintain security, and making sure employees are satisfied with how they are working. Job satisfaction is one of the huge reasons that companies will choose to telecommute. Research has observed those telecommuters are given the freedom to work at their most optimal times and work better because of it (Piskurich, Advantages and Disadvantages, para. 3). Integration for home offices will supplement employee satisfaction as employers find better ways to keep communication channels open and overcome the problems employees have with feelings of isolation.
Telecommuting need not entail poor employee performance or reluctance when a plan is in place. Many occupations utilize telework already, if only on a part time basis. Whole companies need training for telecommuting to assure continued productivity outside the office. Misconceptions on the parts of management and employees will have to be corrected and this will be part of an effective training. The occupational possibilities for telecommuting are multiple and if the trend says anything it will be here for a long time and will grow. Telecommunication for Jon the sales man saves his company money, and lets him work on his own time. Jon works effectively because Jon and his company have done their research and implemented teleworking with a strong plan in place.
Bartos, L. (2009, May 25). Home work: Telecommuting offers flexibility, but working remotely takes balance. New Orleans CityBusiness. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from MasterFILE Premier database.
CareerBuilder. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2010, from http://www.careerbuilder.com/Jobs/Keyword/Telecommuting/?cbsid=24a71b8358f4c2f878f2b2691eb5252-318864290-VJ-4&cbRecursionCnt=1&
Conlin, M. (2009, July 27). The ideal virtual worker. BusinessWeek, (4140) , 65-65. Retrieved January 25, 2010, from Academic Search Premier database.
King, R. (2007, February 12). Working from home it’s in the details. BusinessWeek Online. 9-9. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from Business Source Complete database.
Piskurich, G. M. (1996, February). Making telecommuting. Training and Development, 50(2) 20. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from MasterFILE Premier database.
Tips on how to telecommute the ‘right’ way. (2008, August). HR Focus, 85(4) 8-9. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Business Source Complete database.
Worldatwork survey: 33.7 million telework. (2009, March). Work-Life Newsbrief &Trend Report. 4-4. Retrieved Febuary 2,2010, from Business Source Complete database.
Yu, S. (2008, December) How to make teleworking work. Communication News. 45(12). 30-32. Retrieved February 16, 2010, from Academic Search Premiere database.