What is telecommuting? At its simplest, it is connecting to work from offsite using any telecommunication tool. In the Digital Age, it mostly involves remote work via the Internet, but it has a surprisingly long history. But remote work may come at a trade-off, sacrificing innovation for productivity. Only time will tell whether new technologies will give telecommuting a bigger role in the business world.
Read more about telecommuting below. Or if you’re already working at home, check out our recommended solutions here.
As the world continues to globalize it becomes easier to do more with less. Talking to someone on the other side of the world or sending payments through the internet can happen with just a few clicks. These connections have enabled us to work more freely and independently and have brought us a new way to work namely… telecommuting.
With a world full of constant developments in communications technology it is no wonder that telecommuting has become a more popular and more accessible way to work. For a growing number of employees, it has also become a less stressful way to work. But what is telecommuting exactly? Where did it come from and is it more effective than being at the office?
Continue reading to discover the origins of telecommuting and how it fits into our workforce.
What Is Telecommuting?
Simply put, telecommuting is having a job that allows you to work outside of a traditional office space, typically via a computer or other telecommunications device. You can find telecommuters in their home offices, coworking spaces, or coffee shops around town. Where you work is flexible and all depends on individual preference or company policy. Regardless of where you might work, what makes a telecommuter a telecommuter is the ability to work remotely.
“Telecommuting” was coined nearly 50 years ago by a former NASA engineer. Interestingly enough at the time, the focus of telecommuting seemed to be more environmental, touting the impact it could have on air pollution and reducing traffic. However, today when we talk about telecommuting the conversation mostly revolves around work-life balance, employee satisfaction, or business advantages and disadvantages.
As it has become more common, telecommuting has expanded to include other terms such as remote work, telework, or working from home just to name a few.
Who is Telecommuting?
What type of professionals typically telecommute? Well since any job done from a computer can technically be done from a computer at home, there are actually quite a few. Teachers, for example, are now more than ever finding themselves working in virtual classrooms. As computers and software migrate into the classroom more options are becoming available for teachers. Take live-streaming for instance, which allows teachers to maximize their audience and reach.
A few professions that work from home…
- Social Media Manager
- Graphic Designers
- Web Developer
Are you currently working from home? Keep communications open with these tips: Collaborating Remotely – Why Remote Collaboration is Important
Popularity of Telecommuting
At times it must have seemed as if telecommuting was going out of style. In 2009 almost 40% of IBM employees were working from home, fast forward to just a few years ago and the company has reversed course. The same can be said for Yahoo! Who broke news in 2013 when they asked their employees to return to the office after previously allowing it. So what’s with the back and forth regarding telecommuting?
Productivity versus Innovation
The crux of the argument seems to be whether telecommuting while boosting productivity simultaneously weakens innovation. If this were the case it would force companies to determine whether productivity or innovation is more highly valued. So while employees often support the ability to telecommute and are shown to be happier and healthier as a result.
Large companies and CEOs might choose to support innovation, especially when in a competitive environment such as big tech. So regardless of how much capital large corporations are able to save on real estate by reducing office space, in the eyes of some innovation must be prioritized. This would be especially true when you are a company competing against tech titans like Google and Apple.
So for the time being, it seems like there is still value to working in the office when it comes to collaborating and innovating. While remote workers often see boosts in productivity, it can come at the cost of direct communications. It looks like offices are here to stay in some way or another.
The Future of Telecommuting?
Whether or not you have ever telecommuted in the past, there is no denying that it is growing in popularity with both employees and employers. In all likelihood, telecommuting will continue on the path of becoming more convenient and more efficient. If you ever find yourself having to telecommute and want to make the most of your workday check out these: Working at Home: 7 Productivity Tips
For more information on telecommuting and to find out everything you need to know about remote work be sure to read this 2020 guide to working from home. Or see our suggested work from home solutions to set up an effective home workstation.