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What Is Telecommuting? Types of Telecommuting

By
Mark
Muhoro

What Is Telecommuting? Types of Telecommuting

By
Mark
Muhoro
|
May 17, 2022
8 min read

Telecommuting 

Advanced technology has enabled millions of people across the globe to work off-site, a practice commonly known as telecommuting. Before the coronavirus pandemic began, many companies experimented with telecommuting but did not decide. However, the ongoing pandemic forced many companies to embrace telecommuting amid all the restrictions and stay-at-home orders from the government. 

The decision most companies are battling with is whether to continue with telecommuting, request the employees to come back to the office, or balance both. Here is everything you need to know about telecommuting before deciding where you stand on the matter.

What Is Telecommuting? 

Telecommuting, also known as teleworking, refers to a flexible working arrangement between an employer and an employee where the employee works from a remote location outside the office. Depending on their preferences, the employee can choose to work from home, a coffee shop, a hotel room, a shared workspace, a children's park, or a library. 

For employees to telecommute successfully, they need technology to stay connected with their colleagues and employers. According to recent reports by the National Association for Business Economists, 45% of U.S.-based big and small companies moved a section of their staff to remote work. During the same time, the number of employees who had never worked from home decreased from 47% to 34%. 

Some of the top industries that offer telecommuting jobs include information technology (IT), sales, marketing, publishing, health care, administration, education, training, and customer service. Nowadays, many people consider telecommuting opportunities when deciding whether to join a particular company or not. 

As telecommuting continues to gain popularity around the globe, companies will rely more on technology to increase their productivity and keep employees and management connected. Some of the practical telecommunication tools that will support mobile work are apps such as Slack and Zoom.

The Difference Between Telecommuting and Working From Home 

People often use the terms "telecommuting" and "working from home" interchangeably, but the two terms are different. Telecommuting is an old term, used for over half a century. It refers to an arrangement where employees who hold job positions traditionally done in an office setting work from a remote location, either part-time or full-time. 

In some cases, employees report to the offices for meetings and other events, but they may never meet their colleagues in person. On the other hand, working in the house means just what the phrase suggests: working from home. Those who work from home do so exclusively, and they usually have a home office and a flexible schedule. 

It's worth noting that people who work from home are not always telecommuters. Remote workers' payroll is usually processed virtually after completing a particular project. 

Types of Telecommuting 

There are various ways employers approach the subject of telecommuting depending on their companies' needs. The following are three common types of telecommuting:

  • Regular or full-time telecommuting 

This type of telecommuting is an arrangement between an employer and an employee where the latter works exclusively off-site. Such employees usually set up an office in their home or opt to work in another remote office. Only a few companies, such as Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Microsoft, allow their employees to work exclusively from a remote location. 

This type of telecommuting is best suited for employees who are comfortable working from any location without supervision. The employees report to the company offices for important events or meetings once. 

  • Occasional or part-time telecommuting 

This type of telecommuting usually involves employees working partly from home and the company's offices. In this arrangement, the employer and employee may agree that the team members work three days from home and come to the office the remaining two days. 

  • Special arrangement for telecommuting 

This type of arrangement comes into effect to help employees perform their duties conveniently in an emergency or exceptional circumstance. For instance, the parties may agree that the latter works from home to ensure the continuity of the business during a period of disruption such as a natural disaster, pandemic, public event, or bad weather. 

The employer may also allow an employee to work from a remote location if they're pregnant or have an infectious illness that may spread in the workplace. This work environment is usually convenient for employees who have young children to look after. 

The Pros of Telecommuting 

Telecommuting comes with many advantages for both employers and employees. The following are some of the benefits of telecommuting:

1. Saving money 

One of the best things about telecommuting is that it saves both the employer and employee money. When employees telecommute, they save thousands of dollars in commuting, lunch, and parking. Some companies even pay for Wi-Fi and phones, which means that the employees get to save even more money. 

On the other hand, telecommuting helps employers save money that they would have otherwise spent on running an office. Every year, the employer will save thousands of dollars on office space and utilities. 

2. Improved productivity 

While you may think that employees won't be as productive telecommuting as they would be in an office setting, studies show the opposite. Recent studies indicate that telecommuters tend to be more effective than employees who work in offices.

Telecommuting enables employees to avoid office stress and devote their time and focus to the projects at hand, which, in the long run, increases the company's productivity.

In addition, telecommuting makes it possible for employees to control their work environment and choose the work schedule that best suits them. However, the best way to ensure that you increase your company's productivity is by hiring self-motivated and disciplined individuals. This way, you'll be confident that your employees focus on the work at hand and nothing else. 

3. No distractions 

Working in an office setting usually comes with unforeseen distractions that affect an employee's productivity. Sometimes employees have to deal with office politics and noise from multiple devices. 

On the other hand, when employees are telecommuting, they only have to deal with their own devices. Being less distracted gives employees the peace of mind they need to deliver outstanding performances. 

4. Expand globally 

Employers have accepted that they will not always find great talent within a ten-mile radius of their location. One of the best things about telecommuting is that it allows employers to hire some of the best skills from around the globe. Expansion in the global workforce can happen without the prospective employees relocating to a country or city. 

It's also worth noting that telecommuting enables companies to retain great talent by giving them the flexibility to do their job. Your company's search for top talent will become limitless, especially when you have a full-time telecommuting arrangement. 

5. Healthier employees 

Telecommuting gives employees much-needed control over their working hours and work location. Time management enables them to balance work and personal matters such as exercise. Recent surveys indicate that remote employees exercise more than their in-office counterparts. 

6. Business continuity 

The ongoing pandemic has proven that telecommuting is a crucial element in a company's continuity. The operations of businesses that are yet to embrace telecommuting have come to a halt. Alternatively, companies that have already adopted telecommuting are still working, and revenue is still coming in. 

Many businesses would have collapsed two decades ago if the pandemic had happened. But, telecommuting programs have helped companies stay afloat and continue attracting and retaining top talent. 

The Downsides of Telecommuting 

Even though telecommuting comes with many benefits, it also has its fair share of disadvantages for both employers and employees. They include:

1. Communication barriers and less oversight 

One of the main reasons many companies are yet to embrace telecommuting is that they're afraid they'll lose oversight of their employees once they start working from home. Employers want to know that their employees are working when they're supposed to. Tracking this may not be possible with telecommuting. 

Additionally, employers are sceptical that some things may be lost in translation if face-to-face communication with their employees occurs. 

2. Increased turnover 

When employees work from home, there is always the possibility of starting to feel disconnected from the company and their colleagues. If this goes on for long enough, some employees may feel like they're no longer part of the company, leading to some employees leaving the company and looking for work options that offer the social component they're missing. 

The best way for companies to prevent such occurrences is by holding remote team-building activities to help boost employees' morale and achieve a better work-life balance. Such engaging activities help employees feel valued and part of the company's success. 

3. A host of distractions 

Telecommuting employees are more susceptible to distractions. You could be working when a friend unexpectedly visits you or watching a movie becomes more appealing and distracting during work hours.

Tips to Succeed in Telecommuting 

The following are measures to implement to stay focused on your work and improve your performance while working remotely:

  • Always separate work life from home life.
  • Set a clear work schedule and adhere to it.
  • Divide up your day to accommodate work and personal activities.
  • Ensure that you exercise from time to time.
  • Set up a quiet and spacious workspace for your work activities.
  • Do not spend a lot of time on your phone.
  • Reward yourself when you complete a specific project.

Summing Up 

Telecommuting can help a company save money, recruit top talent, and operate even during emergencies while offering its employees job satisfaction. If you plan to implement telecommuting in your company, this guide will simplify things.

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