Telecommuting: The New Normal in the Sphere of Work
The current situation and the sudden outbreak of COVID 19 have confined us to our respective homes. Our lifestyles have changed considerably. Since schools, colleges, and workplaces are kept closed to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus, people are opting for efficient telecommuting techniques and working from home.
Telecommuting refers to the technique using which people can work without having to report to the office, simply by logging into their systems like computers or mobile phones. Employees are pretty content with the advent of telecommuting as it offers the flexibility to work according to their convenience, and they have readily accepted the new normal. It also helps to prevent workplace distractions.
What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting definition: It is a technology that effectively eliminates the hassle of employees having to travel to their workplaces to get their tasks accomplished. Most of the companies are opting for telecommuting to prevent social gatherings and curb the spread of COVID 19.
These days, most of the tools and resources that companies use to get their different tasks accomplished are available online. This has increased the scope of telecommuting or working from home.
Some popular tasks, like web development, graphic designing, content writing, and accounting, can be accomplished by telecommuting, without the employee having to report to the workplace.
While some employees work as full-time telecommuters, the others get the chance of telecommuting only on certain occasions like illness, pregnancy, and so on.
Benefits of Telecommuting
- Telecommuting is beneficial for organizations as well as individuals in many ways. When it comes to telecommuting benefits, it offers an edge to companies as it helps them to slash down the expense of infrastructure. When employees do not come to workplaces, the overhead expenses like electricity consumption, water consumption, and other costs about infrastructure are eliminated automatically.
- Not only this, even employees do not have to spend a great deal of fortune on travel expenses.
- When employees are allowed to work from the convenience of their homes, they tend to work better.
- It also helps them multitask and keep a better track of all meetings and collaborations they have to attend.
- Telecommuting has resulted in improved productivity. Therefore, it is a win-win situation for both ends, all thanks to the internet, which brings the world to our doorstep.
How Telecommuting Works?
The idea of telecommuting techniques replacing conventional workplaces may seem to be unrealistic. If you are wondering how telecommuting works, this paragraph will give you a clear idea about the mechanism of telecommuting. Alongside the wide range of benefits offered by telecommuting, it has some basic prerequisites.
For effective telecommuting, one needs to have a high-speed internet connection. Employees who telecommute need to interact with their team and other employees efficiently. Some of the basic elements of telecommuting are as follows:
A stable broadband connection
A high-speed internet connection is a must-have for every telecommuting professional. Studies have shown that even residential broadband is sufficient for proper telecommuting. Telecommuting can be done effectively using both laptops as well as mobile phones.
Email is the prime source of communication. It helps a company to communicate with clients and individuals without actually indulging in a real-time chat. Email is a prompt source of communication. It also offers an edge over telephonic communication as it is easier to keep track of conversations done through email.
There may be times when you need to communicate immediately. Communicating via email can be a little time-consuming as you will have to wait for the receiving end to view your email and revert. If you cannot afford this slag of time, you can simply opt for a telephonic mode of conversation. They are prompt and much more accessible.
Video conferencing has replaced conventional meetings
Wondering what telecommuters do when they have to arrange meetings? They simply arrange video conferences. There are a number of tools and software available in the market that has made video conferencing easier. These tools allow individuals not only to see each other while conversing, but one can share presentations. The meetings can also be recorded and used in the future as a reference.
Chatting and messaging
While email and call may seem to be a hefty task, chatting and messaging is much more convenient. Also, some matters may seem too petty to be discussed over call or email. In such cases, a quick message is a prompt technique. Telecommuters also use messaging techniques for real-time communication with their team.
Anyone who has the facilities mentioned above can easily start his career as a telecommuter. Telecommuting has also made it easier for people to pursue their careers in companies in far-away places, even overseas.
As a result, the scope of employment is increasing. Telecommuting is also beneficial to the companies as companies that have a strong telecommuting team can survive disasters that might cripple other companies that do not have a developed technical team.
Pros and Cons of Telecommuting
Pros of Telecommuting
Telecommuting has proved beneficial for both individuals and companies in a number of ways. Here are some of the most remarkable advantages of telecommuting:
- It helps a company to slash down the cost of infrastructure
Owning and running a company is a costly affair. Companies spend a lot of amount on the property, equipment, maintenance, security, cleaning, electricity, canteen, and so on. By implementing full-time telecommuting, companies can save a great deal of money. Now, that is otherwise spent when employees report to the offices and work at their hot desks.
Therefore, the reduced physical presence of employees in offices is beneficial for a company’s assets! It also helps to eliminate energy costs as there will be comparatively lesser laptops, and printers. Also, there will be lesser cooling systems, lights, and so on.
- Reduced cost of transportation
This is a huge benefit for employees. Not having to travel to the office every day helps them to save a great deal of money that is otherwise spent on travelling.
- Improved productivity
While some people may anticipate that working from home can cause employees to slag in their work, the results paint a different picture. Telecommuting has resulted in increased productivity among employees. The main reason behind this could be that working from home has resulted in lesser distractions among employees.
Working in offices means coffee breaks, socializing, team lunches, and many more. Although socializing is an essential part of human nature, it reduces productivity. Working from home has eradicated these things. With fewer distractions, employees can concentrate on their work better and deliver wholesome results!
- Telecommuting has resulted in better networking
The internet has brought the whole world to our doorstep. If at any point in time, you feel that you need to get in touch with a particular person who possesses the appropriate skills to accomplish the task, you can reach out to the person online.
As employees get accustomed to the different aspects of telecommuting, they can build better connections. Unlike office-based work culture, one does not need to have personal relations.
People are no longer confined to the walls of their cabin. Their reach is vast. They do not even hesitate to talk to strangers in other countries and get their tasks accomplished.
- It becomes easier for employers to manage multiple teams at a time
An employer cannot be physically present to monitor all the teams at a time. With telecommuting, employers can boss over multiple teams simultaneously. It has also enhanced the scope of employee presence as they can be work all across the globe right from the comfort of their homes!
- Lesser employee leaves are reported
When an employee calls in sick, the chances are high that he is not really sick. They take leave for some other personal reason. With telecommuting, this has reduced considerably. Even if employees are sick, they work through it.
Also, if they have some personal errands to run, they try to manage it by squeezing it between their work hours. Telecommuting also benefits employees at large as it eliminates the risk of employees acquiring a contagious disease from an infected fellow-worker.
- Telecommuting has opened the doors to the best talents all across the globe
Geographical barrier has always been a restraint for companies and has debarred them from hiring the best talents. As telecommuting enables employees to work from their homes, it offers the companies the flexibility to hire the most competent employees, disregarding of their geographical location.
- Reduced workplace stress
Studies have shown that telecommuting has resulted in lesser stress among the employees. Working at the office may sometimes lead to clashes and politics, all of which take a toll on an individual’s mental peace. Also, sitting at the office desk for hours can result in problems like backache, neck ache, and many more. Telecommuting offers the employees the freedom and flexibility to take a break, or even a power nap, to freshen up and ease their stress.
In a nutshell, telecommuting has made work-life very flexible. If you have a meeting to attend at 9:30 am, you can wake up at 9:15 am and still not panic about being late! Employees can now utilize the time that they otherwise spent doing nothing in the office for other personal reasons.
They get more time to exercise or spend time with their family. Flexible working hours help the employees to take more household responsibilities. This, however, does not have a negative impact on their performance, as they are highly satisfied with this tech-based work style. Telecommuting or working from home also lowers the risk of car and other road traffic accidents.
Cons of Telecommuting
Telecommuting brings an employee out of the brick-and-mortar work environment and helps him to adapt to digital modes of communication. However, every coin has two sides, and so does telecommuting. There are some disadvantages that tag, along with this home-based work culture. They are as follows:
- Telecommuting works when employees are responsible and self-disciplined
While telecommuting is said to enhance work-satisfaction among employees and, thereby, result in better productivity, this does not always hold. If an employee is not responsible enough, he will easily be distracted by things going on in his household. For example, patients and kids at home cause major distractions and hinder an individual's smooth working.
Many employees fail to set the boundary between their professional and personal lives. As a result, their performance is affected.
- Sometimes, the set-up's cost may be overwhelming for the employee
While some employers provide all the equipment that an employee will need to telecommute from home, others do not do the same. They assume that an employee will be able to use his own gadgets and technology. However, some employees may not be able to afford the extravagant cost of the set-up. As a result, they are forced to go to the office. Hence, telecommuting is not beneficial for everyone.
- Fewer scope of socialization
Man is a social being. When we go to offices, we get to meet our co-workers and socialize with them. Telecommuting restricts the scope of social interaction. When people work together and interact with each other, they develop a sense of mutual trust, support, and understanding. This promotes a healthy work atmosphere and a sense of teamwork. Telecommuters, on the other hand, are unable to experience such things.
Even when they work as a team, they lack coherence. This may even affect the quality of work produced by them. It also results in social anxiety among people and hampers their ability to interact socially.
- Lack of innovation
When people converse with each other in person, they may sometimes give vent to a spark of fresh and innovative ideas. Telecommuting may make employees more productive; they often tend to lose creativity. Also, physical presence makes it easier for individuals to assert their opinions and make their presence prominent. Telecommuting employees often lag in these aspects!
- Communication gap between the employer and employee
Employers are often unaware of the conditions in which an employee has to perform his task. Sometimes, the conditions at an employee's home may be unfavorable, and they may be forced to telecommute in unsafe locations and circumstances.
- Breach of privacy
The most important prerequisite for a company to implement telecommunication techniques is that they should offer safe and effective network protection to the employees. Employees are often skeptical that accessing the internal network from an external location could pose a threat to their security. A tiny breach can cause an immense loss of data.
To prevent any such unfortunate situation, companies should issue every possible preventive measure. Also, employees should debar themselves from accessing their data from systems that are issued by companies.
- Employees may be forced to work overtime
While the conventional mode of work, i.e., working from the office, sets you a specific working hour, this is not the case with telecommuting. Sometimes, employees find it difficult to unplug and are forced to work beyond their work hours. This may affect an individual’s personal life. Telecommuters also feel constant pressure and feel obliged to deliver more output.
- People are afraid of scams
These days, it has become very easy to make money using fraudulent means. There are a number of bodies that use unethical means to derive money out of people. They take registration fees from individuals and promise them a work-from-home opportunity in turn. Once the individual pays the registration fee, the employer is nowhere to be found. Therefore, such scams are earning telecommuting a bad name.
Not everything that glitters is gold. While telecommuting offers you the privilege to work from the comfort of your home, these disadvantages are sure to tag along. For any employee who is able to cope with the loopholes mentioned above, telecommuting is a blessing. It has not only made employment easy but has also given vent to lots of new opportunities.
It does not matter where an individual works from, as long as he works efficiently and produces effective results. Telecommuting has opened new gateways of opportunities for different sects of people, especially women and new mothers.
Some people often find it difficult to move out of their houses and take up new jobs. As a result, they sacrifice their careers. With telecommuting, people now have a whole new range of opportunities to kick-start their careers.
Homeworkers are different from self-employed individuals as they are salaried individuals who are hired by different companies to satisfy certain roles. A large number of business firms and non-profit organizations are opting for telecommuting methods to employ efficient and competent employees from all across the globe.
As companies no longer have to worry about providing a separate cubicle to employees, and employees do not have to worry about travelling long distances. Telecommuting is a midway where companies and aspiring employees can meet.