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Telecommuting: The Way of the Future?
Instead of commuting to your job every day, you might look at the option of having your job come to you.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which an employee's
work week is divided between the office and home or another
remote location. Most often people telecommute one day
out of a five day work week. Successful telecommuting
programs are often found in companies and jobs that are based
on results and have workers who do not need constant
Telecommuting has been around since the 1970's but recently
has come back into the forefront as an option to
workers. Due to the rising gas prices and other current
social factors many companies are offering telecommuting as
an option to employees. In fact in recent news, a bill
has been approved by a voice vote permitting many federal
employees to telecommute two days every two weeks. This
bill dictates that federal agencies must make policies
enabling eligible employees to work away from the office as
long as it does not affect the employee's performance or the
agencies operations. Now that the federal government is
catching up with private companies policies, how soon before
everyone has the option to telecommute?
Recent studies show that there are between 2 million and 40
million U.S.workers who currently telecommute for part of
their work week. The most successful telecommuters have
jobs that have the following attributes:
*Easy to work from a remote location
* Able to work without direct supervision.
* The supervisor of employee believes telecommuting is a
successful way to go about doing business
* Employee feels comfortable with telecommuting, i.e. be able
to manage time, be organized, and set their own
Jobs ideally suited for telecommuting are information or
knowledge based. Some examples would be web designers,
IT people, accountants, and writers.
There are numerous upsides to telecommuting. Currently,
saving money on gas would probably be number one, but there
are many other reasons companies support this type of work
arrangement. Telecommuting gives employees a
sense of freedom as well as makes them feel as if there
employer trusts them. This strengthens the relationship
between employer and employee.
Telecommuting also has been found to be good for the
family. It makes it easier for single parents to take
care of their children and allows multitasking and
flexibility in a workers day. Telecommuting has been
shown in studies to not harm but build relationships with
co-workers and managers as well as improve productivity. It
is suggested that employees who telecommute are generally
happier with there work situation.
Recently "living green" has come into the spotlight in the
media as well as in people's everyday lives. It is
estimated by the American Electronics Association that 1.35
billion gallons of gasoline would be conserved if everyone
who worked in the United States could telecommute 2 days a
week. The positive affects of doing this include; smaller
amount pollution, less traffic, and reduced fuel
consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency
reports that conserving all that gasoline would lead to 26
billion pounds of carbon dioxide not being released into the
air. Thus, telecommuting contributes to society's
efforts to live a greener lifestyle as well as preserve our
Some drawbacks have been cited when it comes to
telecommuting. Sometimes the distractions of home life
can get in the way of being productive (however most studies
show that people who telecommute 1 or 2 days a week do no
have this problem). Some workers find their work load
increased greatly by working at home. Also, privacy can
become a real issue with telecommunication. The safety
precautions taken in an office building or the intranet of a
business are hard to secure outside of the work place, which
could be a real disadvantage to some companies.
So, you want to know which companies support
telecommuting? As mentioned before, most federal
employees will soon have the option to telecommute. A
great website to check out for a comprehensive list of
companies that have telecommuting programs can be found at
; Soho Job's website includes
companies as varied as AT&T (phone company), Creative
Freelance (specializes in outsourcing designers writers,
etc.), Fannie Mae (financing), JCPenney (clothing), and Dell
What's more, in the Fortune 100 best Companies to Work For list in 2006 10 out of the 100 companies have regular telecommuters. These companies include Cisco Systems (ranked #6), eBay (ranked #69), Goldman Sachs (ranked #9), and Yahoo (ranked #87). The telecommuters at these companies work at home at least 20% of the time. With the rising gas prices, the focus of many companies on mental health and productivity in their workers, and the federal government supporting telecommuting, it is clear that this trend is on the rise. Amid all of the technology we have and the policies currently being implemented, telecommuting may very well be common practice rather than an anomaly in the years to come.
Jianna Schroeder is a freelance writer.
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