Our works are constantly changing – not only are new job descriptions constantly popping up and replacing old jobs, the way we work is changing and transforming our societies and lives. When it comes to these changing work trends, telecommuting is clearly at the centre of it all.
What is telecommuting?
Telecommuting is sometimes referred to as working from home or e-commuting. It’s essentially a situation of work where the work is not done at the office or the company premise but from the employee’s home or another such location.
The commuting reference comes from the fact that traditional commute (i.e. taking the bus or the car) is replaced by telecommunication links. The employee stays in touch, or ‘commutes’, with work and colleagues via e-mail, telephone and other such systems.
The employee can telecommute in different ways and companies have different arrangements in place. In some organisations, employees are able to telecommute once a week or a few days a month.
Some organisations have moved to a system where employees only visit the company offices every once in a while, with the majority of work being done online from home. Examples of telecommuting companies include Apple and Amazon.
Why is telecommuting so popular?
There are a number of reasons why telecommuting is such a popular way to work these days. The most obvious benefits of this unique way to work include things like:
- Greater flexibility in work location and hours for the employee, which can help with a better work-life balance.
- It can enhance productivity, according to studies. This is down to the removal of distractions, enhanced comfort and reduced stress of traditional commute.
- Help the company make more profit and have a happier workforce. It doesn’t just improve productivity, but also cuts costs in terms of office expenses, for example.
Telecommuting has plenty of benefits, but its popularity has largely been driven by the advances in technology. If you go back just a few decades, working from home would have been a lot harder and more costly.
Nowadays, things such as good Internet connection are not out of reach of private citizens. You can visit sites which provides you deals and vouchers such as Virgin Media, who has also brought high-speed broadband to everyone at economical prices. Additional business packages can help companies setup the same kind of user interfaces on employee homes as for the office. Laptops can manage bigger workloads and remote access systems like Dropbox make it possible to access files no matter where you are in the world.
What is the future of work going to look like?
These technological advances and the huge benefits of reducing traditional commute are likely going to increase the popularity of telecommuting. People are more productive and happier when they are able to choose when and where they work – the quality of work can improve with these subtle changes.
Therefore, telecommuting is going to continue to change the way we work and will be the biggest trend in the coming years.
As organisations are going to move to increasingly flexible systems in terms of both the hours of operation and the location of the office, some other changes are likely to occur. The organisational availability will continue to move towards a more 24/7 approach, with different employees working at different hours, ensuring customers are able to contact companies almost at any point in time.
Furthermore, since the need for traditional office spaces will reduce, there might be an increase in things such as temporary office spaces. Companies might start using offices and other spaces only on a temporary basis, meaning that the team meets up once a month to discuss how things will move forward.
This could open up new business opportunities and change the way we related to offices in general. Perhaps in the future work is not something we associate only with a specific workplace, but a fluid state of mind and location.
Are there any downsides to telecommuting?
Of course, you shouldn’t think telecommuting is the saviour that’ll change work into something magnificent and make us all happier at work. Telecommuting has plenty of benefits and it’s undoubtedly going to increase its popularity, but it also has its drawbacks.
Knowing the disadvantages and taking them seriously can help companies and employees make the most out of this popular way of working.
When it comes to drawbacks, you should focus on the following things:
- Requires plenty of self-motivation from the employee.
- The home needs an adequate setup to support productivity. For example, you need a proper desk, working Internet connection, quiet rooms to work in and so on.
- It can be isolating and some employees can suffer from this lack of human interaction during the day.
Therefore, there needs to be enough understanding of the pros and cons and a conscious effort on the part of both the employee and the employer to make it work. Not only does the employee need to ensure they have a space available for work, but the employer should ensure the workforce doesn’t just stay in isolation.
Proper contact is important to ensure people are working towards the same goals and that they feel part of the company, not like self-employed individuals.
Telecommuting is clearly the newest and most popular work trend out there. Its success is likely to continue in the future and its effect will be huge.