Networking

10 signs that you aren't cut out to be a telecommuter

Telecommuting may sound like a sweet deal, but it's not for everybody. Long-time telecommuter Jody Gilbert takes a realistic look at the pros and cons.

I've been telecommuting off and on for about 12 years, mainly because I insist on living in the middle of nowhere, which makes the drive to any regional office facility tiresome, inefficient, and expensive. Also, I'm a hermit, so that works out well for all concerned.

When I tell people about this working arrangement, I usually get one of two polar-opposite responses: Wow, that must be GREAT! or How can you stand it? I'd go out of my mind after two days. Sometimes, I get the cousin of the second response: Oh, I'd never get anything done; I'd just sit around and watch TV all day.

Successfully telecommuting -- being productive, staying in the mix, keeping yourself on the executive radar, and not allowing work to bleed into your home life until you can't tell which is which -- definitely requires some discipline and vigilance. It's not for everybody. But if you like it and you want to hang onto the deal, you'll do whatever it takes to satisfy management and avoid pissing off your co-workers.

If you've been considering a telecommuting arrangement, you'll want to be aware of some of the ways it might go off the rails. Here are a few indications that maybe your commute to the office isn't so bad after all.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: You fall prey to external distractions

One common lure of a telecommuting arrangement is the misguided notion that staying home will make it easier to juggle caregiver demands and work demands. Whether it's kids, an elderly relative, or anyone else who happens to inhabit your home-now-office and requires some of your attention, the distractions are likely to take a sizable bite out of your focus and productivity.

I'm not saying it's impossible to find a balance. I'm sure many of you out there have. (And please share your comments and tell us what works for you.) But make sure you take a good hard look at what's really going to happen if you try to manage domestic and professional responsibilities in the same space-time continuum.

#2: You're a sitting duck for internal distractions

If you can immerse yourself in a project and resist the little devil on your shoulder that urges you to raid the fridge, do the laundry, call your brother, pay some bills, weed the garden, bathe the dog, finish that Stephen King book so you can return it to the library, pop over to the library to return that Stephen King book, hook up the new DVD player, look for that missing cell phone, cut the grass, watch a few minutes of SportsCenter, check your eBay bids... well good for you. It's not that office employees aren't doing a workplace version of some of these activities (some more than others). But at home, there are likely to be more tempting distractions (WAY more), with nobody but you to keep yourself in line.

Of course, you need to give yourself some latitude here. But if you're going to succeed, you have to do a little self-policing. Or bribery. That can work. One time-honored trick is to promise yourself a break or reward at a certain time or after you accomplish a particular task. Sure, it has a kindergarten flavor. But if the devil on your shoulder is around five years old, as mine is, you might give it a try.

#3: You can't put together the necessary equipment, services, or infrastructure to do your job

One of my ongoing frustrations as a telecommuter has been the lack of anything resembling a high-speed Internet connection out here in the valley where I live. I came within a few nanoseconds of inking a deal with a satellite broadband service, only to have the installer double-check the elevation and azimuth and discover the trees had grown enough to block the signal in the weeks I'd been waiting for him to show up. Seriously.

Decent connectivity is essential for the work I do, and odds are, it will be important for you, too. But even if you have a screaming connection, you might face other equipment or infrastructure shortcomings that could make your work difficult or impossible to perform from home. Think carefully about what you need to create the optimum working environment. Your organization may be able to help you fill in the gaps, just as it supplies employees with what they need in the office -- but you don't want to have to function with sub-par services or inadequate facilities day in and day out.

#4: You can't sustain enough (or any) proactive contact with the office

If your goal in telecommuting is to get the hell away from everybody in the office and have little or nothing to do with them, you probably need a new job. And possibly some counseling. It's true that I like solitude, which is a plus in a remote working situation. But I spend a large portion of each day in contact with co-workers, bosses, and TechRepublic contributors. I pester people with instant messages all day long, sometimes just to touch base, to say, "How's it going," or to get a read on the mood in the office from my trusted confidants. Other times, I need a quick answer, a simple debriefing, or the latest on a go/no-go decision. If you're an isolationist or you're reluctant to take the steps needed to keep communications flowing freely, telecommuting probably isn't a good arrangement for you.

#5: You don't function well without a lot of structure

Some people really need to have someone else impose a work routine on them. They need help lining up tasks, setting priorities, scheduling their days, staying motivated, and deciding how to tackle a project or assignment. If that's your working style, you might find yourself adrift with nobody around to help you stay on track.

If you can't seem to get organized or get started on things you know you should be working on (or you don't know what you should be working on), telecommuting is going to be tough for you.

#6: You have a manager who can't or won't manage remotely

My first opportunity to telecommute got torpedoed by my manager. The company president and CFO were all excited about the idea. In fact, they'd come to me with it, to see if I'd be the telecommuting guinea pig for the organization. But my manager wasn't included in the initial conversations and when she heard what was afoot, she threatened a hunger strike.

Some managers simply can't imagine trying to oversee the performance of a staff member who isn't in the office with them. Could be management style, could be insecurity, could be an unwillingness to make the types of accommodations needed to keep telecommuting staff productive and integrated with the team. Whatever the reason, I can tell you first hand, you need your manager's buy-in for this type of arrangement to work. And the more you can take on your own shoulders (keeping your data backed up, your antivirus updated on the laptop, your online meeting software properly configured, your maintenance requirements low, and your participation levels high), the easier it will be to hang on to that buy-in.

#7: You can't establish boundaries with friends, family, or neighbors

Telecommuters cite the boundary problem as one of the biggest challenges they face. For whatever reason, not everyone gets the fact that yeah, you're in the house, but you're working. Your proximity is an irresistible invitation to some folks -- even those who should know better -- to see if you can tell why their car engine is making that noise, help move a refrigerator, fix a pot of coffee and talk about spring training prospects, read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, or explain what you really meant when you said that thing you said last night.

Of course, co-workers and bosses interrupt each other all the time in the office, and not always for any useful (or even discernable) purpose. But those boundaries are generally easier to establish and maintain, especially if you have a door (or a Mafia death stare). Trying to get family members and friends to understand that you need uninterrupted work time can be a lot more difficult and frustrating -- and feelings may get hurt. If you think this could be a problem for you, or you just don't want to have to be the bad guy and enforce some limits, you might be better off in the office.

#8: You can't bring yourself to quit for the day

Some people hit the door the instant their workday is over. Others have a tendency to hang around until they wrap things up. If you're a hang-arounder, be wary of letting your work life encroach on your home life. Maybe you just want to test one more thing, try one more approach, knock out two or three lingering tasks, or get a head start on tomorrow. But before you know it, it's 8:00 o'clock, it's 10:00 o'clock, it's midnight. Occasionally, this may not be a bad thing. It may not even be avoidable, depending on your job role. But if it becomes a habit, you could be in trouble.

If you're not careful, your job will begin to infiltrate your personal life -- with potentially destructive consequences. Here are a few recommendations for combating this "pervasive workplace" syndrome:

  • Set up a dedicated area for working (so you can leave when the day is done).
  • Establish a work schedule and stick to it.
  • Take breaks just as you would in an office environment.
  • When it's quitting time, quit.

#9: You can't work independently

This is a little bit like #5. Being able to establish your own work structure, schedule, and priorities is an essential part of working independently. But there's more to it than that. Working independently also means being able to create and pursue ideas and solutions without constant feedback or approval. It means that you're innovative and proactive, you spot opportunities, and you don't always need to be told what to do or have everything spelled out for you. It means that you're experienced enough to fly solo and make good decisions without too much hand-holding.

If you're new at a particular job or constantly under the gun to learn new processes or technologies, working independently can be next to impossible. Take a realistic look at how much your work requires you to lean on co-workers and supervisors to accomplish tasks.

#10: You hate missing out on collaborative opportunities

Brainstorming, tag-teaming, and sharing project planning, development, and execution aren't out of your reach if you telecommute -- but you have to make a concerted effort to keep yourself in the game. That may mean IM-ing and e-mailing incessantly, speaking up during phone conferences even though there's that funky delay and awkward interruption factor, forcing yourself to use online collaboration software, or making extra in-person visits to the office. It can be done. But it's not the same as being there every day.

If you thrive on the ongoing interaction of working in the trenches with your colleagues, being able to look over their shoulders and hang around the break room or someone's cube arguing spontaneously and face to face instead of via your keyboard or cell phone, telecommuting is probably going to disappoint you.


Do you have experience telecommuting or managing telecommuters? How well has it worked out for you?

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

34 comments
jsargent
jsargent

I just read "10 things you aren't cut out for IT" and it was a terrible article. This article is great. Though some of the points regarding distractions can be easily fixed if you are serious about it.

bsavery
bsavery

Thanks for this article, Jody. I have been contemplating doing freelance work and/or telecommuting once I get out of college and build some more experience. I was wondering about how I would fair in the world of working from home and now, from reading your article, I do believe that I might do okay. I really enjoyed each of the points and it really helps someone thinking about it figure out if they should even attempt it.

amdenton
amdenton

I sorta have the best of both worlds at the moment.. I work 4 weeks in the office, and then 2 or 3 weeks out of it. The issues I have are mainly time-zone related (it's a pain being in a teleconference at 7:30PM because it's still working hours back at base) or visibility (maintaining profile is more difficult when you're physically not there to hear the boss's latest zany idea..) Still, it works for me at this stage, and means I get to see my kids on a monthly basis, which is great.

martyn.watts
martyn.watts

If all of the facilities, and the self-discipline, needed to allow you to work from home are in place, and the only block to telecommuting is a reluctant manager then maybe you can strike a "No win, no fee", deal for a trial period. For one week you work from home and, if your output isn't equal to or greater than that which you would have achieved at the office then that week comes off your annual leave entitlement. If you match or exceed in-office performance then telecommuting continues. The thought of the loss of a week of leave is a great aid to focus, and remember, the time normally spent traveling can be added to your work day at home with no real loss to yourself. So exceeding in-office performance should be easy. One major caveat though. This does depend on you having the kind of boss who can be trusted to honour the agreement and make a fair assessment of what you have achieved during the week. Those with unscrupulous managers should not even think of attempting this. You'll just be losing a week of your leave. Remember also that some managers are total control freaks, and the thought of not being able to see exactly what you are doing at any time they choose to look may be anathema to them. Promises of IM, video calls, whatever, will do nothing to persuade them to let go of the leash. For those thinking of telecommuting but who are worried about the isolation, a split system of one or two days in the office and the remainder at home can allow the social interaction, brainstorming, keeping up to date (including office gossip), opportunities that they need.

fmurphy
fmurphy

This article is spot on with regard to all 10 points. Yes, most "10 point" articles can get wishy washy, but this entire article is accurate. I did telecommuting for a software company for 18 months. I was their QA tester writing scripts using QuickTest Pro. My setup was via remote desktop into the machine there in the "office", and I was at my home office (which is 200 miles away from the home office). Fortunately, I had a high speed internet connection - it was a two way satellite (which works great for me, as the only alternative was, ugh, dialup... I live in the extreme rural area of MO). I setup my daily routine which started at 8.00am and I shut it down at 4.30pm. You are right, you absolutely MUST set the routine, and give yourself rewards throughout the day. Was it easy to be lured away by home distractions? YES, but after the first 2-3 weeks, I had a routine figured out. Now, here is the catch, at the time, I had my wife at home, and two of our four boys home during the day. The youngest at the time was 3, and the next one that was home was 5 years old. Yes they could be a distraction, but I have an "office" and I closed the door. Their whining and crying sometimes would bother me but I learned to ignore it all. Ok, whats my point to telling this?.... My reward to myself was to SPEND TIME with my 5 year old - because EVERY day at 11.30am, I would stop and the two of us would watch Mr. Rogers together, then I went back to work. It was great. However, as you also stated, management HAS to be ready for this too. I was a pretty good test script creater on QTP, consequently, I could crank them out pretty fast, solid, and with alot of error checking. They were solid test scripts. Because I worked undistracted during the day, I was able to get many many more completed than my peers back in the "office". This created problems. They started complaining that I was making them look bad. The manager would ask why and they mostly complained that I was causing alot of report queues and filling up the database with validation checkpoint information. Well, I struggled and struggled with my manager to make it clear that I did far more thorough testing than just the basic test script of "can the mouse click the button". You see, my manager had never used the testing product before and had no idea of the amount of effort it took to make a well made test script. As a side note, I got more done in an 8 hour day than I used to get done in a 10-11 hour day in the office. There was actually a point in time when my manager was questioning my being "present" in my office. I suggested that we use IM and he can ping me at any time. That worked great. Although, his IM manners were horrible, but at least I made him feel comfortable that I was present. In today's world though, since you can IM via mobile phones, this can be a genuine illusion of being present at one's desk. Telecommuting can work for those that have a) A need. b) The ability to overcome "home" distractions. c) The ability to prove their work is superior - NOT adequate, but better than expected. d) The positive backing of management. Overall, excellent article, this was just a slice of my telecommuting experience but it can work if all the pieces are in place for success!

jpdecesare
jpdecesare

Good checklist for sure, but #4 is way off. Absolutely I need to telecommute to get away from the constant flow of distractions, questions, conversations about Tiger missing the Masters #1 position, you name it. HERE'S WHY: I'm a .Net Developer, and I need to get into a "runner's high" of programming, maybe 3 or 4 uninterrupted hours. You get way more done in 4 straight hours than in 8 30-minute sessions. I don't need counceling. I need either an office with a door or telecommuting. I know SEVERAL programmers that need isolation: one guy made his office is a janitor's closet so the 70+ office people would stop coming him to be shown how to do a pivot table or make an Absolute Reference in Excel. We don't need conversation sometimes, we need to be left alone to write code. Oh, btw, email and Instant Messaging are the FIRST thing to get turned off when it's time to code. They are, without a doubt, the biggest distractions of all, bar none. Otherwise, good list, very helpful!

alancmaskell
alancmaskell

I have been telecommuter for 10 yrs now... Have to admit 85% of my work is done from home now. No regrets and never looked back. One word sums it up: FREEDOM

mstandal
mstandal

Good Points. After my layoff last spring I did contract work for some companies and old contacts in the area. I had trouble with staying focused for more than a few hours at a time without the temptation to work on house projects. You bring up some good points, and anyone who is considering telecommuting should read this article. I did enjoy the flex hours and not having to get out of PJ's until noon!

sml
sml

You do not want to, or know how to, "go beyond." I have been a remote worker for several companies since 1995, sometimes a few times a week, sometimes (like now) 100% of the time. Your tips are excellent, but one more I would add: if you want to continue to thrive in your home office, do more than you are asked, proffer ideas and solutions, not just for your role, but for other areas of the company. This means you have to be in touch with not just your manager and "co-workers" but your industry, your business, other departments, etc. When you "go beyond" you create lasting and renewable value for the company that is specifically associated with you, the person they might not see every day. In that respect, #11 draws on #4, but it is more than communication and brainstorming. Offering ideas and solutions where they are not asked for takes acumen, good timing, and humility, so your ideas are not seen as invasive, but will build your reputation as a person of value.

ben
ben

There are some good points...addiing a bit of emphasis on a couple from my experience not only from my own home-office experience but also helping my client companies succeed with telecomuting strategy: Several of your points relate to having clear objectives and completion criteria. One of the biggest barriers I've seen to success is line managers without a clear vision of goals. The question often comes up "how do I know who's working when they are not here", which to me should be a clue in itself. You know they're working because the work gets done. Go beyond the "duh" and ask why do we ask the question? Usually it is a sympton of (among other things) lack of clear organizational vision, poor planning and foggy objectives. If you know what is expected to be done when, why it is important and who else depends on you, telecommuting can be part of your tool kit. I've encountered some just lazy managers: evaluating performance in meaningful way is hard. Noticing who's in at their desk 12 hours a day is easy..but doesn't mean much. My advice to them is get over it or get into another line of work. Collaboration is critical to acheiving the kind of organization that really cranks. Maintaining synergy and team cohesion is a big challenge. A hybrid strategy of balancing in-office face time with remote work style often is a key to enable the kind of collaborative synergy you're looking for. I find that after a certain "exposure" time face to face with the team, enough to get the fires really going, I can shift to more "away" time and still keep it all good. Lastly, being flexible is essential. For me the key benefit of my remote work style is I can adjust my schedule to the demands of work, life, and fit the way I'm most effective. Especially for a high tech organization, remote working can be a huge productivity tool. Go for it!

vcwatch
vcwatch

Jody - nice article with some relevant points. Any ideas where I can find research statistics on the growth of telecommuting across USA and North America?

4thDDev
4thDDev

I am now in my fifth year telecommuting. First as a freelance web developer and now working for a contracting company. I faced most of the challenges you listed and addressed them in a similar manner. The biggest hurdle for me was communication. At the office your manager knows you're in the cube and can check on your productivity by dropping by. When you're not under his/her thumb you need to reassure them that you're staying on task by communicating with them more. I miss having direct contact with my co-workers since that is a large part of our social interaction, but I can now filter the work requests and distractions down to a productive level. One huge disadvantage for me since I am four hours away from the office are promotions. A full-time telecommuter may not get those promotions as much if at all. Forget being lead developer or team lead. Most managers won't see how you can lead while separated from your team.

shearsl
shearsl

I teach math online and therefore I do most of my work from home. I also develop educational software on my own. I find that it is easier for me to deal with interuptions at home than when I go into the office. It seems other teachers at the office are always talking about something that delays getting work done. It is easy for me to ignore them except when they are talking directly to me. Also, since I have more computer skills than most of them, they want to ask me how to do various tasks. I don't mind helping except that it takes time and it is not what I get paid for. When I am at home, I can simply tell my family that I am working now and I will be available after I get such and such done, I'll let you know when that is. I do not quit at a certain time as the article suggests, but then I get a lot of personal stuff and things that help my family done during the day. So I don't feel compelled to quit by a specific time. My jobs are very task oriented rather than time oriented. After a day filled with getting workouts in and doing things for my family with some work time squezzed in during the day, I look forward to finishing cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and sitting down to my computer to get some serious work done. To me my work is the most relaxing and exhilarating thing I do in a day so I have no problems getting it done at the end of the day.

SaintGeorge
SaintGeorge

I'm not usually happy with the 10 Things articles, but this one was amazing. And not just about telecommuting. I'm working with one foot on an organization and the other on free-lancing jobs. And it made me face the fact that I really suck at free-lancing. Of course I won't quit, I just will try and reinforce those points I'm weak at (hehe, kinda all of them...) Is there any article about freelancing?

webservant2003
webservant2003

I am a community college instructor and 2/3 of my classes I teach online. These are also good tips for my students or other online teachers. I find that setting and sticking to a schedule helps, but I break my schedule into 'short' bursts of about 2 hours each. Then I take a break, do all that distracting stuff and then go back. It's easier to say, "I'll go check the mail box in 30 minutes when my two hour 'shift' ends," than it is to say, "I'll check the mail box in four hours on my lunch hour." Pacing is important. I'd much rather work four 2-hour shifts scattered throughout the day than two four hour shifts separated by a lunch hour. It is also easier to deal with those external distractions since you are never more than two hours away from being able to read that book or give that backrub. Don't try to duplicate the office schedule in your home. One of the strengths of telecommuting is being able to work in a manner which makes you more efficient and not less. I work well in the late night hours - like after midnight. I work less well at 8 a.m. So, I adjust my work schedule accordingly. Terri

redemdone
redemdone

I work from home and love it - I've established the boundaries of 8-6:00 for family and friends who know those hours are devoted to work. Even though I previously ad a very short commute - I'm basically very self-motivated, structured and a loner who resented the "chit-chat" that took place at work as time stealers. I planned my" office", have a all-in-one copier, printer, fax a secure shredder and work with 2 Macs and one Windows PC to do my work. Never a question from my managers about what I'm doing - they see it and we are in constant communication via phone and e-mail.

Justin James
Justin James

Jody - Great timing on this. I started working out of my house a few weeks ago. So far, the biggest challenges for me is that I became an insanely social person over the last few years, and I have a hard time not having co-workers in my face. the other challenge for me (and this has been true when I worked in offices as well) is that I have adopted so much to working in the midst of continual crisis and chaos; I am a GREAT person to throw into a firefight and get stuff done. Take me out of that, and it takes me a while to get my bearings. Working from home, plus zero crisis, makes it tough for me to stay really on point with the task at hand. For example, instead of just writing the spec, I'll get ahead of myself and start looking at how to implement the spec too. That's not an efficient use of my time when the spec is due, but without a "I got this at noon and it is due at 2 PM" scenario, it is tough for me to get to the point. J.Ja

ireaneus
ireaneus

From the sounds of it I would fit working from Home. My current IT dept job is so right to work from home but our IT director is totally against it. That's ok cause in a few months we are being outsourced and I plan to work somewhere else. Any ideas on companies that have telecommute opprotunities for a network /system administrator?

Tony DeRosa
Tony DeRosa

Part time telecommuting is a nice fringe benefit that can help people balance work and life and increase productivity. I telecommute about 10% of my time and find I am just as productive at home as in the office. Our staff also "works from home" to take advantage of the convenience when necessary. In fact, I would say that overall we are more productive because of telecommuting. There is less time lost for a sick child, a nasty cold or a dentist appointment. Stress reduction is another great benefit. Reducing commuting time provides more time to complete tasks. As a manager, I sometimes leverage this aspect to meet deadlines to gain more working time on projects. We also have a rotating support schedule and usually keep the primary staff working from home to increase availability. Lastly, globalization has many of us working in multiple time zones and telecommuting makes that job requirement a lot easier to handle.

User3D
User3D

Great article. I am officially retired, but have been working part time from another state (850 miles away) for 2.5 years. The biggest problem are distractions,... getting on the internet to "see what's going on". Or , yes dear I'll do that in a minute ... after I finish this task. I use Skype for voice communications and GoToMeeting for visual communication. For those not familiar, GoToMeeting allows my boss, co-workers, etc. to see my screen on their computers. I can give them rights to use my mouse and keyboard, if needed. I could not do my present work without GTM. I do mechanical design-drafting using 3D solids modeling.

peterbal
peterbal

I worked for years as a departmental manager in a large whiteware manufacturering plant and then entered the ministry in a small rural parish. From ultra structured to none in one day - literally! My office, counselling room, study, prayer room, etc are all in my home. I cope with it by drawing a rigid boundary between work and non-work. The work areas are used for nothing else, and I only enter them to work. I also run a weekly timesheet on myself, a habit from my previous employment. Although I am not required to it helps to keep me aware, and honest. After 15 years of it I think I would find it very hard to go back into a work place where my day is structured for me.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Jody, this is an excellent article! You've really nailed the whole process. I'm not a typical telecommuter, because I work freelance. Other than keeping clients happy, I'm totally on my own, which can be both good and bad. At some time or another, I've battled all of your issues. Right now, I spend the majority of my day chasing a two-year old granddaughter, so I work during naps, on the weekends, and at night. You have to know what your main priority is, everyday, and then fulfill it. In that respect, it's not so different from working in an office. Again -- great article!

C L Kerr
C L Kerr

Jody, Good post. I see many advantages of working from home. I'd rather be faced with the technology challenges than have half of my day burned up with non-productive "collaboration" or idle chit chat.. Face time is important - but the reality of today's world is deliverables. A good friend of mine uses 2 PC's at home working for a major tech. company and gets much more work done. ALso, when traffic ties up 2-3 hours a day, telecommuting allows the employer to convert this time to real work!

marathoner
marathoner

I had a job where I was told I was hired to be a programmer (which is what I do) but it turned out the boss wanted me to also do just "a little" administration and soothing hurt customers feelings and of course that was all mission critical whereas progging was adding new features and fixing bugs. it ended up taking about 6 hrs a day to do it all because talking to customers DOES NOT SCALE and some of them are windy. Whenever I finally got to programming he wanted to see live results that day in the 2 hours that was left. It was a gawd awful mess that needed ground up rewrite, but he never let me crawl into a cave for 2 weeks and really build anything so I was reduced to doing little tweaks here and there. He should have known better!

beechC23
beechC23

I find a distinct, well-equipped office is a big help, one that is well separated from the rest of the house (i.e. with a door on it, quiet). It creates a separation from the rest of the house that makes it easier to concentrate with fewer distractions. Training my wife and kids to recognize that I was at the "office", not at home, was the biggest challenge.

dmcaplan
dmcaplan

I just finished up a paper on the subject, you might find some of these helpful: References Chen, L., Nath, R. (2005). Nomadic culture: cultural support for working anytime, anywhere. Information Systems Management, 22(4), 56-64. Desrocher, D. (2007, October 8). Home is where the work is. Incentive, p.NA. Retrieved March 22, 2008, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale: http://find.galegroup.com/itx/start.do?prodId=GRGM Drucker, D. J. (2005). Virtual office tools for a high-margin practice. National Underwriter Life & Health, 109, 26, 22-32 Levine, Shira. (1998, March 15). The public-private handshake. America's Network, 102(6), S12-S17 McMahan, Kevin L. (2005, June). Manage a virtual team. Journal for Accountancy, p. 34 Sloan, M.. (March 23, 2006). Portable technology issue brief. (ADRC-TAE Issue Brief ? Monograph). Snizek, W. E (1995). Virtual offices: Some neglected considerations. Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the ACM, 38(9), 15. Strum, M. (2001, May). Telework, telecommuting, virtual officing ... redefining the 9-5 routine. AFP Exchange, 21(3), 36-41.

JodyGilbert
JodyGilbert

I thought it would be easy to find all sorts of data tracking telecommuting trends, but that turns out not to be the case. Googling "telecommuting" and "telework" both turns up very little in the way of current stats -- even the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics and Census don't seem to have anything useful (correct me if I'm wrong, anybody who knows better -- but I've been coming up empty-handed). I found one in-depth survey report, and a colleague uncovered some Gallup poll results -- maybe they'll lead you to some additional information: http://www.workingfromanywhere.org/news/Trendlines_2006.pdf http://www.gallup.com/search/default.aspx?q=telecommuting&s=&b=SEARCH Meanwhile, I'll keep looking and circle back with any other discoveries of merit. --Jody

ireaneus
ireaneus

Looking for a network admin job.

webservant2003
webservant2003

I don't know your job, but who says you have to write your spec first. If you can create an implementation plan first and then write the spec afterwards, why not do it that way. One of the advantages of working in a less structured environment is that you can be more efficient working on that which your own mind is ready to work on. Most of us are non-linear thinkers by nature. For instance, I'm writing a training program for new online instructors. I have a rough outline of 12 lessons. But that doesn't mean I will start with lesson 1 and go through to lesson 12 or even that I'll write the first part of lesson one before the third part. If I'm ready in my mind to write about developing a syllabus for an online class, then I'm going to write it more quickly and efficiently, than if I force myself to write the chapter on student outcomes simply because it will come first in the finished product. Sometimes you have to let the project create it's own timeline. Terri

ssharkins
ssharkins

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but if you need a "I got this at noon..." scenario to work your best, leave it all sit until the stress builds! I could never work like that -- it is interesting that we are all wired so differently. I'm a methodical, disciplined worker and I don't like stress! Good luck with your new situation.

RK_916
RK_916

I was just informed today that the company that I have put in 24 years with is closing my office & that I will be working out of my house. I have mixed feelings about working the arrangement. One thing that weighs on my mind is that although they will pay for my h/s internet, a phone line & provide a laptop - they will not subsidize my electric bill to run the A/C, the lights, etc. as the summer months are quickly approaching.

ashoka.reddy
ashoka.reddy

Jody, A very good account of telecommunicating describing all the considerations and influences, that most of us just don't realize when we first start this as simply a 'good idea'. You've summed up my own realizations, that I've aquired over 13 years of telecommunications working within large multinationals, trading, and running my own company. I'd like to pass on your article to anyone considering this.

mboyle
mboyle

I don't know how many times I try to work on something that mind is not yet ready to work on and it takes forever! When I go with what my mind is ready to work on it goes so much quicker! The drawback is when your mind just doesn't want to work! I usually try to take a 15 min break and that come back to it.