Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Telecommuting - Part 2 The Journey

By Toni Grundstrom

Telecommuting has become a cost effective way for both large and small companies. The employee enjoys the reprieve from the daily commute and they become a more productive employee. That said, is this work option right for you and your company?

Understanding your 'virtual office' skills and how telecommuting will work for your company will prepare you for presenting a detailed proposal to your boss. Any person may be able to perform their job duties at home but is this right for you? According to The Virtual Office Survival Handbook by Alice Bredin, you need to understand your working habits. You should consider your ability to: resist distractions, manage your time, set limits on work, and deal with challenges. You also need to determine if you are internally or externally motivated and if you are an over- or underachiever. Know what your virtual office skills are before you try to sell the concept to your employer. To survey your employee habits and how they can be transferred into a telecommuting employee visit

Did You Know?
The number of telecommuters is increasing worldwide. Canadian telecommuters, for example, can recoup up to six full work weeks yearly -- an average hour a day -- by eliminating their daily commute, according to Bernard Brodie, an InnoVisions Canada consultant.

While it may seem that telecommuters trade off career progress for the opportunity to telecommute, the experienced telecommuters and their managers show just the opposite to be true. Telecommuters in well-managed programs have a chance to act independently, make more decisions, solve more problems, do better planning - and otherwise demonstrate the kinds of skills and traits sought when looking for promotable employees. If you are this type of an employee consider this information and use it to strengthen your proposal.

-Telecommuting is not appropriate for every job. Analyze your job activity, not the job title, to determine suitability to telecommuting. Is there a portion of your job that can be done, as well or better, away from the office?

-Details that need to be discussed and agreed upon include ownership of remote equipment, compensation and insurance for work-provided equipment including all office supplies, compensation for worker expenses (additional telephone, lines, long-distance charges, etc.) criteria or performance standards for workers' evaluations, frequency and travel reimbursement of an occasional required office attendance, etc. A telecommuter may perform all or almost all of his/her work remotely, or may work remotely only a certain number of days per week or per month, attending his/her employer's office on the other days for meetings, customer/client contacts, or just to "keep in touch".

-Staying in touch with co-workers is essential to continuing the 'team' affect needed to keep a well-oiled department running. Suggest creating a chat area or listserve where workers can start up discussion or pose questions of a professional or personal nature. Start an on-line 'Wall of Fame" to display awards, trophies, certificates, or other professional or personal successes or to show off individual or team achievement. Peer pats allow co-workers to recognize another co-worker for successes, a job well done, or an award her/she won. Post personal messages on a certain day every week. This encourages team members to communicate with each other on a personal basis including favorite restaurants, hobbies, travel arrangements, a child's accomplishment, etc. This type of message board does not need to create any type of discussions. This is a way of staying in touch on a personal level.

If your company already allows flexible work options like telecommuting, it may be relatively easy to convince you supervisor to let you telecommute. The main issue will involve proving your reliability and the appropriateness of your job for distance working. However, if you're hoping to be the first telecommuter in your organization you face a larger task. First you have to convince the company telecommuting makes business sense. Once you know that your work habits and telecommuting is a match you need to translate that knowledge into a proposal that will convince your boss. Here are some methods that work: Drop occasional tidbits about telecommuting and how you would like to start doing some of your work from home. Collect articles about telecommuting to become educated on the highlights and drawbacks of this working relationship - become an in-house expert.

Many articles can be found on the Internet. Some sites include,, Two subject related Associations can be found on the Internet - International Telework Association & Council (ITAC) at and the American Telecommuting Association at Show how telecommuting can save the company money. Visit to help you crunch the numbers.

Ensure your written proposal contains all the important information but more importantly, know what you are going to say. Practice in front of a mirror or to another person. You must feel comfortable for the presentation to be professional. Concentrate on what the company can achieve, not on your own needs. A well-researched plan will serve to help with the approval and success of this mutually beneficial working relationship.

Toni Grundstrom's expertise is in Marketing. Working for a professional association, government entity, and small business as a Telecommuter provides understanding of the concept and the issues surrounding this working option. She advocates for, informs and educates people who telecommute, work at home, or own a home based business. They are Professionals Working At Home.

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Copyright 2008 Toni Grundstrom All Rights Reserved.
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