Telework, also known as telecommuting, has many advantages for both workers and employers. Employers have fewer overhead costs by not having to rent or own large spaces to accommodate employees. Workers at home have the convenience of not having to dress for and travel to their employer's place of business. However, there are some disadvantages to working from home; telework may not be ideal for everyone.
Working from home means working alone. Even though you are in touch with your office electronically, it’s not quite the same as interacting in person. One component of a pleasant working environment is being surrounded by peers to have lunch with and spend time with during breaks and after work.
Impact on Career Advancement
Teleworkers have limited professional interaction and may not feel as if they are a part of the corporate culture. They have to make an extra effort to make supervisors and co-workers aware of their presence and demonstrate that they are part of the team, even though they are working remotely.
Lack of Structure
Telecommuters usually have flexibility as to how they manage their tasks. A certain amount of discipline is required to keep on task when you don’t have a boss or other co-workers around. Effective time-management skills are key for the teleworker to ensure that work is completed on time.
Applicants for teleworking jobs are often asked if they have a distraction-free environment at home. Small children or pets may make noise or require immediate attention that can distract the employee. Friends and family may not consider working from home as "really working" and may be tempted to call or stop by since they know you are at home. Teleworkers need to make it clear to employers, family members and friends that they are "on the clock" during business hours.
Human beings relate to each other in a number of ways, some of which are nonverbal. Most teleworkers interact with employees or clients by telephone or email, so body language and other visual cues are not accessible. Telecommuters may feel emotionally disconnected from their in-office peers. Even if the teleworker interacts with other employees or clients via webcam, people tend to control their words and actions in that environment and may not act as naturally as they would in person.
In order to provide network access to the telecommuter, companies have to open an electronic gateway from the company's servers to the employee’s remote location, thereby making sensitive corporate information less secure.
Even if you mostly work at a desk in the office, you generally have to move around to attend meetings, go to lunch or confer with colleagues. Teleworkers have a tendency to sit at the computer in their home office for extended periods of time in order to prove that they are, in fact, working, and sometimes because they have no distractions to cause them to take a break. People who work from home should take regular breaks to rest their eyes, stretch their legs and avoid mindless snacking.
- Photo Credit Woman working on laptop at home on the couch. image by Andy Dean from Fotolia.com
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