Transit Services (e-tran)
Commuter Alternatives: Telecommute
Why choose telecommuting?
It’s not just working in sweats and putting on a kettle to make your favorite tea. Many workers find peace, productivity, and a more balanced lifestyle by telecommuting. Would you rather sleep in than hit the highway? Depending on the type of work you do, your employer’s preferences, and your home office setup, you may be able to stay off the road and work from home one day a week or more – maybe even full-time.
The advantages of telecommuting are numerous. You might just look forward to saving extra time each day to spend with the kids, read a great book, hit the gym – just think how much time you spend traveling to and from work now. You may have a big deadline approaching and need to work without the distractions of your officemates or a constantly ringing telephone. Or you just may find your brain works better on creative tasks in a more natural lighting than the office fluorescent bulbs.
Roughly 4.5 million Americans telecommute most work days, roughly 20 million telecommute for some period at least once per month, and nearly 45 million telecommute at least once per year. The 2000 U.S. census shows Sacramento is the 7th most popular metro area in the country, with 4% of workers choosing to telecommute. Maybe this could work for you too.
Telecommuting costs can vary. If you are already set up with a home office, fast computer and internet, and any other technology you need to do your job, then it may cost little to no money. If you need special software or other equipment, you will need to negotiate with your employer. Some companies will purchase equipment and supplies for the telecommuter to use at home, and others will allow telecommuting only if the employee pays for any home office expenses. If you are working from home part-time, you may need less equipment since you can save certain projects for your in-office days.
How to Telecommute
- Evaluate your job. Could you be productive at home? If you spend a lot of time on the computer and communicate most by telephone and email, there’s a good chance you would be a good candidate.
- Evaluate your employer. Does your employer have a current telecommute policy? Do others in your office telecommute? If the answer is no, you may be the one to pave the way for others. You will have better luck with this if you have already been on the job long enough to earn your employer’s trust.
- Evaluate your home office. Do you have room in your home to set up a work space that will let you be effective? If you plan to share the kitchen table with your children’s homework projects and dinner, you may not be able to keep organized enough at home.
- Evaluate your technology. Will you need different technology to do your job at home? Will you need to learn how to be more effective with online scheduling, how to access your office computer through the internet, log in to a network remotely, or use other new software or technology? Remember, the office computer guru won’t be nearby to bail you out so you need to be confident that you can handle it.
- Evaluate yourself. Some people just can’t be disciplined enough to work from home without a boss looking over their shoulders. If you think you’ll be tempted by the soaps and talk shows, you might not be a good candidate. Be honest; you don’t want to jeopardize your job by losing your employer’s trust.
- If you think you are a good candidate, create a proposal for your employer. Before you approach your boss with the idea, do your homework; this will show that you are serious about the idea and that you will be serious about working effectively from home. Be sure to address issues such as technology, communication, hours of work, safety at home, and any other relevant topics. Remember, it’s about what telecommuting can do for your employer, not what telecommuting can do for you.
- If your employer accepts your proposal, get your home office ready and get to work. Find support from other telecommuters. Make sure your friends and family understand that you are not available for personal visits during your workday any more than you were while at the office.
- Enjoy your extra time and money. Life, and work, probably seems a little better now.
- Sample Telecommute Agreement.
- The Anywhere Office Radio Show. Great series available on the web on setting up a virtual office.
- The Telework Coalition. The Telework Coalition offers some great stats you can use in your proposal to impress your employer with the effectiveness of telecommuting.
- The American Telecommuting Association Provides more information on advantages and technology of telecommuting.
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