HR

What is telecommuting and remote work?

Krista Lomu
October 20, 2021

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Digital solutions have transformed our work. You no longer have to go to a dimly lit office and do a 9 to 5 shift in most jobs. Instead, you could solve work problems from the comfort of your own home or the nearby beach thanks to telecommuting and remote work.

Telecommuting and remote work is not popular just because it is possible. The most recent drive of organisations scrambling to offer telecommuting opportunities has been down to a necessity more than a choice. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to adopt the strategy. But early studies suggest many companies are going to continue offering and promoting this option, even as society gets back to a new normal.

So what is everything you should know about telecommuting?

What is telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a kind of work arrangement where the employee works outside of the organisation’s office. Very often, the location for working is the employee’s own home, which is why telecommuting is often referred to as ‘working from home’. However, the space for doing the work could be any suitable and secure workspace. 

You could be telecommuting in a café, a library or the nearby beach (if you are one of the lucky ones to live on a warm, sunny paradise island!). The main factor is that you are not working in the typical brick-and-mortar location together with other team members.

What are telecommuting jobs?

You can find many different sectors using telecommuting as part of work. The strategy allows telecommuting to be part of the usual work arrangement or employees might be working from home majority of the time. There are companies that do not even have a physical office any longer but all employees work remotely. There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to telecommuting!

Here are some examples of what is a telecommuting job:

  • Web developer
  • Content writer
  • Graphic designer
  • Accountant
  • Social media specialist
  • Customer support

That is just a small sample of examples. Many jobs can be performed remotely. It all depends on the tools available to you. And there are many digital tools allowing this. Contractbook’s contract management tools could help draft complex legal documents remotely, for example. You can also use video conferencing tools like Zoom to conduct meetings and so on.

What is the advantage of telecommuting?

Telecommuting comes with a lot of benefits. Some organisations have been slow to adopt this modern approach to work. But the recent lockdown has opened up the eyes of many companies to the advantages of telecommuting.

The most important advantage of telecommuting is the boost in productivity. Studies have shown the positive impact even a single day out of the office could have on productivity. 

The above is tied to how remote work promotes employee wellbeing. The option creates a more flexible way to work, allowing the employee more freedom in terms of scheduling a healthy work-life balance. Telecommuting cuts out things like time wasted on commuting.

Employees can also feel empowered. By saying to the employee that they can work from home, you are essentially telling them that you trust them to get the job done despite all those distractions (such as the latest Netflix hit!).

Cost-cutting is also a big advantage of telecommuting you should consider. Telework could save you money on office costs as well as reduce the environmental impact your organisation has.

What are the disadvantages of telecommuting?

Most things in life are not black and white, good or bad. You should not rush to telecommuting thinking it is going to solve problems and result in euphoric and productive employees. Being aware of the possible disadvantages of telecommuting is crucial.

And remember the thing about productivity? Well, not all employees are going to flourish under remote work. Some people might find the lack of boundaries problematic. They might not know when their role as an employee begins with children banging the door. Distractions  the environment creates could have an adverse effect on productivity.

Remote work isolates employees from each other physically. While they can reach out and talk, the lack of ‘on-the-spot’ interactions might be something they miss. Little watercooler moments are gone and these feelings of isolation can have a negative impact on performance.

Issues with communication are also possible disadvantages of telecommuting. Reliance on technology puts a lot of pressure on the product but also your organisation to get it right. You need to ensure you are using the right digital technologies to stay in touch and to work, while also helping each employee to use them correctly.

How to make telecommuting work for your organisation

Telecommuting is not the automatic saviour your organisation is looking for to grow. Like with most processes, you need to apply it correctly to make it work. Sending a memo to employees and allowing them to work remotely is not enough.

What do you need to do to make telecommuting work?

You can look at a previous blog post on remote work for tips on limiting the disadvantages of remote work. It boils down to your organisation:

  • Using several communication technologies to make sure employees can access, share and create with ease.
  • Establishing structures to promote and support teleworking, including check-in sessions and feedback loops.
  • Creating social interactions to improve a sense of community.
  • Sharing leadership responsibilities and providing opportunities for employees at different levels to lead.
  • Supporting employees with digital tools, development opportunities and other sources to deal with problems they might have.

Telecommuting – the key takeaways

Telecommuting is an advantageous way to work. Organisations can benefit from the flexibility it provides with employees. A well-created opportunity to work remotely can improve productivity and employee wellbeing. The key is ensuring you use the right digital tools and create appropriate support structures to prevent the disadvantages.

Different technologies are wonderful tools to use for this purpose. They maintain a flow of information and ensure your organisation does not jeopardise its security. You can build your team around the concept of teleworking without forgetting about efficiency and a sense of community.

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