Telecommuting Pros and Cons

 

Telecommuting is on the rise. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, the number of Americans who have telecommuted is four times greater than in 1995. But, it’s still more of an exception than the norm.

Here are some of the plusses and minuses of telecommuting for a company.

PROS:

  • Productivity – According to a study by Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Mary Noonan at the University of Iowa, “telecommuters are almost twice as likely to work more than 40 hours a week”. I would agree with that one. I had a great PR job once where I started off commuting at least an hour just to get to my job. By the time I got there after battling with traffic it usually put me in a bad mood and zapped my energy. Once I started telecommuting I ended up actually working more hours, getting more done, and being happier about my job. Because I had more energy, I tended to be more creative. Seems I may be on to something. Studies show that 10-20% of telecommuters are more creatively productive.
  • Cost savings – Employers save by being able to have smaller office space and pay less in office equipment, along with less expensive things like coffee, furniture, office equipment, etc. The employee who telecommutes saves money in gas, wear and tear on their car, business clothes, etc.

CONS:

  • Distractions – Employees who telecommute face the same kind of issues that entrepreneurs face. One is that there are many things to distract you when you work from home. It’s easy to fall into a habit of getting up late, taking too many breaks, and having the TV on in the background. One company I worked with had most of their employees working remotely. And one thing they mentioned was that, although they loved being home with their kids, they became a distraction when they tried to get work done. So the company opted to foot the bill for child care.
  • Social isolation – Working from home can get lonely. Yes, you do have email and the phone to keep in touch with your co-workers, but it’s not the same as having lunch with them and hanging out after hours. You can have a teleconference, but it’s still not the same as having a face to face meeting.

All in all, most employees would rather telecommute given the choice.

Do you telecommute? What do you like or dislike about it?

 

Dealing With Difficult People at Work

I’ve never really worked a typical nine to five job in my life, but I have worked with some difficult people. My experience has been for limited amounts of time, like for several weeks while shooting a movie. But for those people who are stuck in an office dealing with difficult people at work, there needs to be a way to handle it.
For many people, half of your life is spent at work, or in work related situations. So, dealing with difficult people is something you have to get under control or risk the stress that comes with it.
Sometimes simply ignoring the difficult person is enough. If you don’t confront them, they usually move on to picking on someone else in the office. And that person may be the one who challenges them to stop their behavior, saving you and everyone else in the office from their tirades.
If the bullying is completely focused on you, you will eventually need to confront it or it will just keep getting worse. Let the bully know that you will take the case to someone higher up on the food chain if it doesn’t stop. Sometimes this is enough to get them to back off.
Take the high road and don’t stoop to their level. It’s tempting to want to lash out and do something immature, but if you do, you just fall into their trap and end up looking like an idiot yourself. Stay calm and go straight to the top if all other attempts at civility fail.
This one is really hard, but try to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what the real root of the problem is. Maybe that person is under tremendous stress in their personal life or maybe they feel inferior at work, or any number of other issues. There’s usually a reason why someone resorts to bullying. Try to figure out what it is, and if you can help resolve it that way, it’s best to try it first. If not, get management involved quietly and return to focusing on your own job.