Telecommuting: Crossing the Threshold to Work, Part 1
This article also published in the Tracy Press
Part 1: Introduction
BEEEEPPPP. BEEEEEPPPP. Arrrgghhhh. It’s 5:00 AM and your alarm clock is announcing the start of a new day. You hurry to get ready for work, then climb into your trusty automobile (or climb aboard the ACE train) for the, sometimes stressful, one or two hour commute to work. If your day is normal, you might: talk with clients on the phone, spend a few hours on the computer, design hardware or software for the next great product, research ways to save the environment, write reports, or attend hours of meetings (none of which are pointless, right?).
At 5:00 PM, you climb back in your automobile (or aboard the homeward bound ACE Train). If there is an accident, or cows on the rail, don’t count on being home before 8 PM. All of the time you spend in transit leaves precious little time for a quality family life: helping the kids with homework, cleaning up the yard, or getting to know your neighbors. If you are getting older (like me), sleep beckons, because you know that the alarm will, before you know it, hark the arrival of a new day.
Repeat 200 plus times a year…..for years, and years.
There has to be a better way. As it turns out, if the first paragraph accurately describes your typical day at work, chances are you can work at home at least one or two days a week and maybe more. You can telecommute.
The concept of working at home has been around for quite a long time, but, there have always been “barriers” blocking the wide acceptance of telecommuting or telework. Some of these barriers are cultural, and others are (or were) technical.
With the growth, and increased reliability, of the Internet and the availability of affordable high-speed connections to the home, as well as improved computer and network technology, the technical barriers are pretty much a thing of the past. But, the much harder cultural barriers remain. One such barrier is the old fashioned opinion that you need to be at your desk to be working. If you are not there, you are not working. Right? WRONG!
In this day of increasing gas prices, nearly continuous traffic congestion on 5, 205, 580 and 680, long commutes from the bedroom community of Tracy to the Bay Area, global warming, terrorism, the threat of disease (remember the bird flu?), the need (yes, the need) to telecommute is increasing. In short, times have changed: Telecommuting was once thought of as being a benefit, or perk, for the employee (and could quickly be taken away). Now it is clear that telecommuting benefits BOTH the employee and the employer and is fast becoming critical for an organization, for example, to remain operational in times of distress.
This series of articles, written with the Tracy commuter in mind, will, over the next month or two, introduce you to:
Part 2: The concept of telecommuting, its advantages and disadvantages, and who may be able to telecommute.
Part 3: The basics of telecommuting including what the employer and employee must know, and accomplish, to make the telecommuting experience the best it can be.
Part 4: The basic technology (phone, Internet, computer, network) needed to effectively telecommute and how to keep your computer as safe and reliable as it can be.
Part 5: The advanced technology (videoconferencing and collaboration) that may help to overcome many of the cultural out-of-sight out-of-mind issues and allow the remote worker to more effectively participate in the “normal” workday.
Part 6: Interviews with Tracyites who telecommute and some companies that allow telecommuting in the surrounding area. If you telecommute now, and want discuss your experiences, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have put up a very short questionnaire here: http://www.telbitconsulting.com/survey.html . I will include the results, if any, during the course of this series.
In the meantime, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about working at home. The benefits for both, as you will find out, are overwhelming.