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Telecommuting. Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication February 10, 1998. Telecommuting: What Is It?. A misnomer: the term really refers to the absence of a commute. Bring the work to the worker, not the worker to the work.

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Middle Tennessee Chapter

of the

Society for Technical Communication

February 10, 1998

telecommuting what is it
Telecommuting: What Is It?

A misnomer: the term really refers to the absence of a commute.

  • Bring the work to the worker, not the worker to the work.
  • Does not always require a lot of gear (paper, pencil, and telephone).
telecommuting is
Telecommuting is...

distinct from the virtual office.

  • “Have laptop, will travel...”
  • Wherever you go, the office goes with you.

Garret Romaine

why telecommute
Why Telecommute?

“Commuting is the single most anti-productive thing we do.”

Alvin Toffler, Future Shock

employee advantages
Employee Advantages

Telecommuting offers the employee:

  • fewer distractions/interruptions (increasing productivity)
  • increased availability of time
  • reduced expenditures on gas, parking, dry cleaning, fast food, day care

Linda Woody

employer advantages
Employer Advantages

Telecommuting and virtual offices offer employers opportunities for

  • getting the most work out of employees
  • cutting costs (premises costs, administrative labor, etc.)
employer advantages cont d
Employer Advantages (cont’d.)
  • compliance with environmental mandates to reduce highway congestion, air pollution from automobile emissions, use of non-renewable energy sources, and loss of farmland
  • increasing geographic pool of qualified recruits
other advantages
Other Advantages
  • Improved motivation (employees respond well to trust/confidence)
  • Skills retention
    • employees who might otherwise leave continue working. (According to the ATA, this cuts recruiting and training costs incurred by replacing the employee.)
    • employees who take a career break still remain up-to-date
other advantages cont d
Other Advantages (cont’d.)
  • Organizational flexibility
    • assemble/reassemble teams as needs change
    • assemble teams with the best skills and experience regardless of time zone, geography
    • use technology effectively, making the company more adaptive to further advances
  • Little supervision
  • Isolation
  • Potentially awkward client relations issues
is telecommuting for you
Is Telecommuting for You?

Key factors for success:

  • stronger-than-average motivation
  • results-oriented management (is the work getting done?)
  • time management skills and goal orientation
is telecommuting for you cont d
Is Telecommuting for You? (cont’d.)

Don’t do it if you

  • have conflicts at home
  • need an outside source of motivation
  • require the social ambiance of an office
telecommuting and the technical communicator
Telecommuting and the Technical Communicator

Careers in technical communication lend themselves to telecommuting because

  • the necessary tools (hardware, software, and related communications equipment) are already familiar to them
  • many already possess a PC at home with an extra phone line and fax/modem
other options
Other Options
  • writing, editing
  • telemarketing
  • computer programming
  • administration
  • executive decision-making
will my manager agree
Will my manager agree?

Common management objections (and their answers/solutions)

Telecommuting means working at home full-time.

Most work 1-3 days at home.

Telecommuters waste time.

Usually, productivity increases by 10-15%.

will my manager agree cont d
Will my manager agree? (cont’d.)

Managers can’t manage people they can’t see.

Keep close, regular contact, set regular deadlines.

“If I let you do it, everyone will want to do it.”

Not everyone wants to or can telecommute.

will my manager agree cont d17
Will my manager agree? (cont’d.)

“What if we need you and you’re not here?”

Telecommute only when no meetings are scheduled.

Managers who are results-oriented have the fewest problems managing off-site employees!

making it work
Making It Work
  • Use the right people
    • disciplined workers
    • problem-solvers
    • self-starters
making it work cont d
Making It Work (cont’d.)
  • Schedule regular meetings to
    • assess needs
    • give feedback
    • discuss problems
    • set deadlines
making it work cont d20
Making It Work (cont’d.)
  • Schedule regular office visits
  • Ask employee to set a weekly schedule
  • Determine a regular and alternate method of contact
    • pagers
    • frequent use of office voice mail system
making it work cont d21
Making It Work (cont’d.)
  • Designate a person in the office as a “key” contact person
  • Review hardware/software configurations periodically
  • Decide how to deal with clients
the role of technology
The Role of Technology

Telecommuting was coined in 1973, by Jack Nilles in The Telecommuting-Transportation Tradeoff: Options for Tomorrow. Since 1973, people have invented the

  • fax
  • PC
  • “information superhighway”
the role of technology cont d
The Role of Technology (cont’d.)

How has all this technology changed the concept of telecommuting?

According to the ATA, many of today’s jobs are information-intensive and group or team-oriented. The new technology allows you to stay “plugged in.”