Make us your home page

Make telecommuting work for you, your employer

Call it the workplace of the future: your home. One way that companies are downsizing is to have employees work at home. When staffers telecommute, businesses can save money by moving to smaller quarters or consolidating separate locations into one. But workplace consultants and company executives say telecommuting can take some, well, work for someone who needs to adjust after years in an office. Some tips for making the transition. Associated Press

Becoming one

It can take discipline to work at home. A telecommuter needs to be able to schedule realistically, prioritize and be able to stay focused on work despite distractions like children, pets, even the refrigerator.

"You can't be a person who thrives on boss-imposed deadlines and a boss looking over your shoulder," said Alexandra Levit, author of New Job, New You and an adviser to the Obama administration on workplace issues.

A brand-new telecommuter also has some logistics to work out. That means talking to the boss about what you'll need, and who's going to pay for it. Will you be using your own personal computer? If so, will you need to upgrade it to handle your workload? Will you need other equipment, like a fax machine or Web cam? What about an extra phone line?

If you have a family, you'll have to integrate the changes in your job into your children's routine. But remember that your work needs to be a priority.

Some companies may be flexible about working hours, so telecommuters can pick up their children from school or take them to soccer games. In return, an employee may be working earlier in the morning or later at night to get the work done.

Establish a routine

Many telecommuters find working at home isn't quite as easy as they expected.

Experts say establishing a routine — getting dressed, going to a set work place in your home, taking a lunch break — is key.

It's also a good idea to check in with managers just as workers would do if they were still in the office.

While it's a good idea to maintain a daily schedule so you can stay productive, Jayne Nanavaty-Dahl, manager of IBM Corp.'s group for work-at-home employees, said it's easy to overwork when you're telecommuting. When you don't have to leave the office to catch a train or make the drive home, it can be tempting to stay in front of the PC for just a few minutes more, and then find you've worked an extra hour or two.

"We make sure our employees know that at the end of their scheduled work day, they can stop working," Nanavaty-Dahl said.

Being visible

When you work away from a traditional office, your colleagues and managers can't see or interact with you in the usual way. There's no stopping by a co-worker's desk or chatting with the boss in the break room. It can be harder to communicate and establish necessary working relationships.

IBM offers social networking tools to help employees discuss workplace matters. And telecommuters should be sure they stay in touch via phone, Internet chats and social media Web sites.

It's also a good idea to show up in the office from time to time, especially if you supervise other people.

Being evaluated

When employees work remotely, managers may question if those staffers are actually working. The telecommuter can easily put those questions to rest.

Tory Patrick, a public relations account manager, is evaluated by her output. "If there is a press release that needs to be done by Tuesday, I've got to do it whether I'm in the office or working at home," she said.

Leslie Truex, author of The Work at Home Success Bible, said that when workers are not in the office they are held much more accountable than those who are on-site. "My advice: Work," she said.

Make telecommuting work for you, your employer 01/31/10 [Last modified: Sunday, January 31, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    PANAMA CITY — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday picked close friend and supporter Jimmy Patronis to be Florida's next chief financial officer, a lucrative prize for loyalty that casts new light on Patronis' pro-business votes as a legislator and his support for higher electricity costs as a regulator.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches


    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy


    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]