Here’s the formula to determine whether telework works for you: Count the number of days you telecommute in a month, divide that by the number of times you open the refrigerator door when you’re working from home, and subtract from that figure the number of minutes you pace aimlessly around the house. Add to that the number of minutes you really are working and multiply that by ...
All right, there’s no easy way to tell if it works. But one thing is certain: Telecommuting is here to stay. Not only is it growing in popularity, advances in technology are making it easy and irresistible, and many industries and workplaces have signed off on it.
Really, telework does work for both employees and employer when all the conditions are right.
Let’s explore those.
- The type of job obviously must lend itself to remote work. A Web designer can. A receptionist can’t. A writer can. A custodian can’t. An HR pro can, but shouldn’t. The trouble starts when those who can’t, start feeling they drew the short straw with this perk. When the jealousy brews, can a morale problem be far behind?
- The person teleworking is honest about it and gets the work done. This comes down to an ethical thing with a dash of trust. For the record, there are always going to be abusers. Have fun trying to align your definition of abuse to that of the telecommuter.
- The employer accepts the tradeoff between attracting talent and losing some degree of employee collaboration. For some job candidates, the absence of telecommuting is a deal-breaker. If you want to lure good workers, you may have to offer it. So, telecommute they will, but you’ll lose those spontaneous interactions that breed creativity when workers chitchat and joke around in the cubicles and break room. Emails here fall short.
- The employer realizes that once telecommuting is allowed, there’s virtually no chance of a recall, so you’ve got to make it work. That genie won’t go back into the lamp without a lot of kicking and screaming. You can’t reel that benefit back in without chasing away some key employees and casting a pall over the workplace. No buyer’s remorse allowed.
- The teleworkers’ managers are up to snuff on how to manage people they can’t see. Self-starters work best in the telecommuting forum. Supervising a slacker is hard enough when you can keep an eye on him. It becomes a whole lot trickier by remote control.