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The Truth About Telecommuting

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap

From: Patti Ghezzi

I used to fantasize about telecommuting. No wasted time on the road. No parking fees. Wearing sweats all day. Juggling personal life and work without fear of my boss’s disapproval.

What I longed for was freedom. I wanted to shed the straightjacket of the office and do my work without having to keep up appearances or deal with office politics. Please, I felt like screaming some days at the office, JUST LET ME WORK!

Through a series of fortunate events, I am telecommuting now. I have a part-time job with a company in Massachusetts. I have never met my boss in person or any of my colleagues, even though one of them lives just a few miles away in Atlanta. We use e-mail. We talk on the phone. Besides juggling my part-time job with my home life, I fill in the gaps with freelance assignments.

My telecommuting dream has come true. But, not surprisingly, reality doesn’t match the fantasy.

It’s true I’m not stuck in traffic for an hour and a half a day. And, yes, I wear sweats, though on days when I have a lot of work to do I find getting dressed in real clothes acts as a motivator. I can shop online while waiting for sources to return my calls or even, gasp, go out for groceries during the work day.

But I don’t feel as free as I thought I would. Assignments are still due when they are due. My work better be good quality or I could be replaced. Because I don’t see my co-workers every day in the office, it’s even more important to communicate often and effectively. It’s up to me to manage my time.

And that straightjacket of an office? Darned if I don’t miss it sometimes. My friends and I keep up on Facebook, but it’s not the same. Being home all day can feel isolating, and having the fridge so close by can be dangerous.

On balance, I would say I gained by telecommuting, but not as much as I thought I would.

More of us are telecommuting these days, a trend likely to continue because of the cost of gas and the benefits to companies in the form of lower overhead and the ability to retain good employees who need flexibility.

Working from home is the future. But telecommuting is not a paid vacation. You need more self-discipline. Way more. Your work has to be stellar, because your charming personality and tap-dancing skills won’t be able to save you the way they could when you were in the office.

Expect a sharp learning curve if you start working from home after years of office entrenchment. I’ve been at it for two years and finally feel like I’ve gotten the hang of it. Telecommuting is more than a different way of working. It’s a lifestyle. For me, it pays off. But the flexibility I get in the end doesn’t come as cheaply as I thought it would. Does anything…ever?

About the Author:

Patti Ghezzi is a veteran journalist with 15 years experience covering everything from education to the environment to business. While on staff at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she founded the blog Get Schooled. She now writes about business for publications such as Atlanta Woman and Georgia Trend as well as the Web site DivineCaroline. When not working, she chases after her toddler, watches Yankee games with her husband and tries to figure out how to live green without giving up her beloved Diet Coke. Reach her at pattighezzipr@searchlogixgroup.com.



Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

Comments

Erik Hare

I don't telecommute as much as work my own consulting biz. The results are the same, as far as I'm concerned.

I fully agree that you need to dress up as if you're about to go out every day. As a guy, I don't wear makeup (well, not much ... :-) but I do get myself 100% set for a trip to the office. I think that's critical.

I also have to make a point of getting out once in a while just for the interaction. It isn't always about work, and in fact it's usually a volunteer gig or my novel writing group. But I seriously HAVE to get out once in a while! People need to plan for that if they're easing into work from home.

There are a lot of other things I've learned to keep myself motivated, mostly involving whiteboards and goal setting and the like. They seem like details to me, however, next to the critical point you hit so well - it's still a job and treat it like one!

Thanks for a good post. More and more people will need this advice!

Steve Wilson

I've been telecommuting for 6 years now and enjoy the freedom but there are some downsides;

1) lack of visability. If you mainly work with a group that is in an office then you are less visable. I finally set up a web cam so that my co-workers could actually see me. It helps come review time.

2) Slippers don't last. I can't find a good pair of slippers that will last for more than 3 months.

3) Home office furniture is junk. I keep wearing out swivel chairs. I finally went to a liquidator auction of a business that closed down and bought a couple of good executive chairs. Finally a chair that will last more than a year.

4) Get out of the office. I get together with former colleges in my area once a month for lunch. You do need interaction with other adults. Sorry kids, I love you but discussing the existential nature of Tinky Winky gets old - I need some adult time.

aullman

Some of the issues that face home telecommuters can be addressed through the use of Remote Office Centers. ROCs lease individual office, internet and phone systems to workers from different companies in shared centers located around the city and suburbs.

Some people do not have adequate facilities at home. Others, have facilities, but prefer the structure that comes from going to the office every day. Others miss the social contact of working around other people doing similar jobs with similar back grounds.

ROCs provide a hybrid solution that offers the best of a traditional office with the convenience of an office down the street.

I have created a free web site that lists ROCs for workers who are interested in telecommuting from a remote office.

http://www.remoteofficecenters.com

Noel Lynne Figart

I'm a freelance writer, and I often find myself fighting against the "Work at Home in Your Underwear" type image. Or worse, fighting against the idea that I've all the free time in the world. I don't, though I've learned that I must kill the procrastinator monster dead or I don't pay my rent!

One thing I do to keep myself out in the world sometimes is to take a very low-time intensive job. I open a local gym three times a week really early in the morning. It means my gym fees are always taken care of and forces me to interact with people on a regular basis. I need that to keep me human, as I'm naturally a rather cranky introvert.

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