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Telecommuting: Advantages and Disadvantages

Within the world of technology, flexible working has never been easier. Nowadays companies in a variety of industries offer the option to work from anywhere you like. This way of working has many names, but it’s mostly called telecommuting. But what does that mean exactly?

Telecommuting is the agreement between the employer and the employee, which allows the latter to work outside the office; be that home, a coffee shop, inside or outside the country, in a car, train, airplane, etc. 

While this activity is sometimes called telecommuting or remote working, and other times it will be known as working from home, principally, they have the same meaning, with a slight difference. Remote working suggests that the employee works outside the country or on another continent. Telecommuting doesn’t necessarily imply that as the worker could be anywhere outside the office. On the other hand, working from home has a narrower meaning. 

The way people work can depend a lot on the industry they’re in. Regardless, there has been a 20% increase in telecommuting in each industry. With the digitization of everything, even if we work inside the same building, we often prefer to email a coworker or our boss for something we need, rather than going to their office. So, we are already getting comfortable with the idea of not having direct contact with them.

This new way of working has given traditional work a punch in the gut due to its flexibility. Peoples’ lifestyles often dictate a certain way of working and some companies’ needs can’t always be fulfilled by people that are nearby. Telecommuting gives people the chance to put their skills to use and employees to find expertise and skilled people around the globe.

One exceptional thing that has come out of this new and innovative work mode is the ability of new mothers to put their extra time to use and not let their skills and degrees go to waste. This has resurrected a whole working force that was not able to practice their skills until now.  

People might choose to work outside the office for many different reasons. Some might be students looking for flexible jobs. Others might just prefer working from home as they are more productive that way. And there are also mothers that do not have the option to travel to an office and want to regulate their own schedule.

Just like everything else, telecommuting has its goods and bads. There are advantages and disadvantages to working outside the office.

Advantages of telecommuting

You might think there are more distractions if you’re working from home, but it’s quite the opposite. People who telecommute tend to work more hours than those who work in an office. This comes as an effect of many factors. While allowing telecommuting, managers show trust in their employees. This boosts self-confidence and motivates the worker. 

Also, not having to get ready and go to an office saves time, and that time gets dedicated to working. Another benefit from telecommuting is the ability to reduce stress. Traffic is one of the biggest causes of stress, and when you eliminate that, you are prone to have a more productive and motivated work life.

Besides time, you get to save money as well. If you work from home, you get to save approximately $510 annually on transport, $900 on lunch, and $125 on coffee. That is money you could save or spend on treating yourself.

Disadvantages of telecommuting

One of the things that scare managers from telecommuting is the disability to manage people. They think that if you’re not watching people all of the time they don’t get work done. But even at an office, you can’t always watch over your employees, but the work gets done regardless.

A drawback from telecommuting is the need to socialize in the workplace. Everyone needs the daily interactions that you might have with people outside your home and telecommuting is one of the things that stops that from happening. Sometimes, working at home can get lonely and isolating but as long as you can manage your time correctly, you will be able to find time to socialize outside of work.

Distractions are another downside to this work mode. While you’re working, you might remember some housework you forgot to do or someone might come to visit. There are plenty of distractions that you might encounter. Or otherwise, if you are a workaholic telecommuter, you might find it hard to end work and dedicate most of your time to your job, leaving behind whatever other responsibility you might have.

Depending on the job, some problems the employee might encounter may need teamwork to solve. Even if that’s not the case, sometimes only talking to people working in the same field as you can help. 

Regardless of these disadvantages, the 2017 report on telecommuting in the United States shows these statistics:

  • 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005 (a 115 percent increase since 2005).
  • The average telecommuter is 46 years of age or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, and earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker.
  • Roughly the same population of women and men telecommute.
  • Telecommuting is more common among employees over 35 years of age and most common among Baby Boomers.
  • In more than half of the top U.S. metro areas, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.

While there are many advantages and disadvantages to telecommuting, in the end, you have to decide whether or not it is a fit for you. For this choice to be the right one for you, you have to take into account your lifestyle, the job you do, and many other factors that influence your career.

Overall, telecommuting is a new way of working that has been adapted to the needs of the market. Howsoever you might call it, remote working, working from home or some other way, it has changed many industries and the way people think about work. It has also brought people back to work. There has been a 115 percent increase since 2005 in the number of people that work remotely. It has created another perspective for companies and workers and has made work exciting again.