Wouldn't you just love to roll out of bed, grab a cup of Joe
and head to the office in your pajamas? According to a variety
of sources, there are anywhere from 2 million to as many as 40
million workers who telecommute for at least part of their work
How do you
know if your job is ripe for telecommuting? A lot depends on the
attitude, objectives and atmosphere of your employer. Then
there are considerations about the nature of the work you
A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation identified
a number of factors affecting the success of telecommuting,
The job must be suited, at least in part, to performance at
a remote location.
The capabilities and personal characteristics of the
employee must be appropriate to working with little or no
The employing firm must accept telecommuting as a
legitimate and desirable activity, provide necessary
support and have appropriate information technology in
The supervisor or manager of the employee must accept the
concept and practice of telecommuting.
The employee must feel comfortable with telecommuting in
terms of its suitability to his or her personal work habits
and style, its effect on social interactions and on
advancement and career.
Many of the jobs that are ideally suited for telecommuting
are professions with "information" or "knowledge" worker
positions. These jobs range from accountants and analysts to software engineers and writers.
"Employers and employees must think about what the
business reasons are for wanting a telecommuting program.
This could include greater flexibility for both the
employer and the employees, productivity benefits or the
ability to attract or retain workers," says Jean T.
Stimolo, executive director of Telecommute Connecticut!, a
service of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Telecommute Connecticut! works with Connecticut employers
to design and implement effective telecommuting programs.
"Many companies are surprised by the increase in
productivity a successful telecommuting program can bring,"
Stimolo says there are roughly 158,000 people in her state
who now work from home, according to a survey completed in
late 2006. This represents an 86 percent increase in the
number of telecommuters over the past five years. Everyone
defines telecommuting a little differently. Connecticut's
definition of a telecommuter includes someone who works at
home for one or more days per month during normal working
hours, however the majority of employees work from home two
to three days a week.
At Smith Brothers Insurance in Glastonbury, Conn., for
example, 50 of its 57 employees telecommute either
full-time or as needed. Their program started four years
ago when the company wanted to retain a valuable employee
who was moving to Texas. "It's a great recruiting tool,"
says Kim Connolly, Vice President and part-owner of Smith
Brothers Insurance. "It is good for our employees,
particularly our sales force. They don't have to come
into the office after sales calls to check e-mails; they
can check messages and do their paperwork from home. When
someone has a cold, they can work from home and not risk
spreading germs to their co-workers."
"Even I look forward to the days I work from home," she
Stimolo maintains that one of the first things employees
must consider if they would like to telecommute is "how
much of their work is portable and what are the tasks that
can be done as well or better remotely."
If a job requires ongoing access to equipment, materials
and files that are situated only at the workplace, it could
be problematic if you want to work from home. "Employees
and their supervisors should also address connectivity,
security and voice-data needs," she adds.
Don't expect your employer to foot the bill for all the
equipment in your home-based office. Stimolo says that most
employees who work from home one or more days a week use
their own personal equipment. "We're not seeing any trends
to indicate that employers are purchasing equipment for
telecommuters. However we do work with employers to help
make sure they have the right interface and security for
the company." Connelly says Smith Brothers Insurance will
buy one workstation for each employee, either at the office
or at home.
Another key factor, according to Telecommute Connecticut!
is an employee's job performance record. Candidates for
telecommuting should have a good work history and
demonstrated reliable and responsible job performance.
Employees should also know their job well enough to keep
working without checking in with their supervisor at every
stage of a project.
Even if the conditions are right, working from home isn't
for everyone. "Many people don't realize the personal side
of working from home," Stimolo notes. Her organization
works closely with company HR staff to train employees and
supervisors to prepare them for successful telecommuting
arrangements. She says those who are most successful
working from home are self starters, people who are used to
working independently, but they also need to be good
Bottom line, says Stimolo: "The payoffs are great for both
the employee and the employer when there are clear work
goals, proper training and a well-thought out plan for
Copyright 2008 CareerBuilder.com. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.
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