These days, there is an increasing number of workplaces that telecommute. But just exactly what is telecommuting? Cambridge Dictionary defines telecommuting as “the activity of working at home while communicating with your office by phone or email.” This telecommuting definition pertains to what most workers have experienced during the global pandemic, one way or another. It is also known as teleworking or remote work.
It comes as no surprise that COVID-19 affected a lot of industries. For the businesses that failed to innovate and adapt their operations while abiding by strict government regulations, they might have even filed for chapter 11 altogether. The national lockdown caused employers and employees alike to find ways to keep their businesses and livelihoods afloat. However, if there was one thing that we can say served as a beacon of light amidst the chaos, it was the presence of the internet and its effective tools for communicating. Jobs that we thought could only be done at the office can now be completed at home.
That, dear reader, is telecommuting.
The ultimate question is, should you incorporate telecommute in the workplace even after everything stabilizes again? Are there drawbacks to telecommuting, and can it be applied to all types of work? To telecommute or not to telecommute... in this article, we will deep dive into its pros and cons, some telecommuting examples, and also how you can use it effectively should you decide to do so.
Advantages of Telecommuting
- More Time for Productive Work
Telecommuting allows workers to eliminate commute time and by doing so, they would have more time and energy for work. When structured properly, working at home also reduces distractions that are normally seen in the office such as a coworker who talks on the phone loudly, phone lines ringing, distracting scents and smells, and needless strict policies. By reducing distractions, people will be able to focus more on what they’re doing and can get the job done quicker.
- Work-Life Balance
Research shows that having work-life balance increases job and life satisfaction. It goes without saying that when you’re feeling better about your job, you will be more motivated to produce your best work. It will also be better for your mental health.
- More Savings
By not having to leave the house, employees are able to save on numerous expenses. These include their allowance used for commuting (or gas money if they have their own cars), clothing expenses due to changing wardrobes more often and upkeep, and even expenses when eating out for lunch and snacks.
- Higher Employee Retention
You heard that right. People who telecommute are more likely to stay in the company. This could be because of what we’ve iterated in point number, wherein telecommuting improves job and life satisfaction. And when employees don’t leave the company as often, employers would also save money on training new hires.
Disadvantages of Telecommuting
One of the major reasons companies allow their employees to work from home is to reduce their time spent in traffic. However, if you don’t protect your time, you might end up overestimating the time you actually have by procrastinating. Plan your day to avoid falling prey to procrastination and keep at the task at hand.
Sometimes we get a lot of work done, but when the line between work responsibilities and home chores entwine into a blurry haze, employees have a greater risk of feeling burnt out. This may be because you feel pressured to perform more while mostly sitting at a chair in front of the computer all day. Symptoms of burnout to watch out for include headache, irritability, lower motivation, increase of errors, and decrease in efficiency.
- More Difficulty Collaborating
Telecommuting has its advantages, that is if you have the tools necessary to communicate effectively with your team. One of which is a feature provided by Strikingly, which we will discuss about more later. A few other reasons telecommute makes it harder to collaborate include unstable internet connection, differing time zones, and technology hiccups.
Let’s be honest, co-workers make working more fun. One of the major factors contributing to employee engagement and satisfaction is by having friendships with their peers. In fact, a study shows that loneliness affects how employees perform and that the maintenance of positive social exchange relationships can alleviate workplace loneliness.
The number of companies who use telecommute has been steadily increasing, particularly the ones in these industries:
- Computer and information technology
- Digital marketing
- Education and training
- Customer service
- Healthcare services
Not only that, but nowadays freelancers also use telecommute to look for clients. Some examples of professionals who usually use telecommuting are:
- Musicians who want to showcase their talent and grow their audience
- Web designers who display previous work they’ve done for other clients
Image taken from Ashmith’s website
- Stylists who let you see their beautiful fashion ensembles
- Virtual assistants who aid you in day-to-day tasks
- Code-savvy engineers who can help you create an app
- Event planners who put up testimonials from previous customers
- Illustrators who desire to showcase their drawings online
Image from Brenda Chen’s website
How to Telecommute Successfully
- Remember Your Goals
Keep inspiration nearby and make a vision board that will motivate you to always give your best at work even when you’re telecommuting. Inspiration can come from different sources such as playing your favorite tune or listening to podcasts that inspire you.
- Wear The Right Clothes
One advantage of telecommute is not having to wear super formal office attire (unless you’re required to in meetings). However, try not to wear pajamas as well as this can psychologically affect your desire to work. When you wear sleep clothes all the time, you might feel like watching TV, relaxing, or doing things that aren’t as productive. The way you dress can affect the way you behave.
- Have a Work Schedule
Just because you telecommute does not mean you have to toss your perfectly filled-up work planner. In fact, you can curate it better to include breaks in there as well. You can even keep your waking and sleeping schedule as if you’re going to the office. Be sure to prioritize what needs to be done first before moving on to less important and less urgent tasks.
- Have Clear Boundaries
The pressure to be available at all times can make telecommuting harder than it seems to be. Just like in a normal office environment, make sure to develop clear boundaries that allow you to rest outside of work hours to prevent burnout.
- Use Telecommuting Tools
The proper tools go a long way in the world of telecommute. This means selecting softwares that allows you to eliminate distractions and communicate more effectively with your coworkers. You can choose to download social media site blockers that will help you stay focused and resist the urge to spend countless hours without getting any work done.
One more tool that prevents miscommunication is by using Strikingly’s team feature, which allows you to invite colleagues to edit and manage any site.
The site team update enables store managers to edit products and process orders. Plus, you can now search for your teammates in the teammate search bar, as well. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!
- Optimize Your Home Environment
Telecommute means spending most of your time at home. This means that you can set-up your work space in any way you like. Some tips to make the most out of your mini home office are:
- Tidying up your desk before and after work. A clean environment does wonders in freeing up mental clutter, as well.
- Don’t be afraid to leverage the power of scent. Finding that perfect scent can help you stay focused.
- Ensure you have proper lighting. Better yet, open up your windows and take advantage of natural light.
- Make it more fun by adding a bit of decor such as a picture of your favorite travel destination or a cute succulent of your choice.
- Take Care of Your Health
Telecommuting isn’t an excuse to sleep in or stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Make sure you are taking care of your body by drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious food. Eat energizing meals for lunch and keep healthy snacks nearby. Don’t forget to include exercise into your daily routine, as well. If time doesn’t permit, even mini stretches here and there and walking around the house can get your blood circulation running and your bones and muscles a little bit less sore.
Having said all that, stop and think about what does telecommute mean for your team. Do you think that this growing popularity of working from home would prove to be beneficial for you and your company? Do you even have the right tools for effective telecommute? Nonetheless, we’d like to encourage you to give Strikingly’s team feature a try. They say ignorance is bliss. But in this particular instance, you just might be missing out on something that can ultimately turn things around and revolutionize the way you work.