What is Teleworking?
Teleworking is a term that defines a working style, where a person works from home with the use of technology. A person who works away from the office is a teleworker. Teleworking is associated with working outside the traditional working organization or a company (i.e. the workplace).
This includes working at home or any place that provides comfort for work. Teleworking is similar to telecommuting however; it doesn’t have any limitations like the location.
The four major attributes are
- Technical usage
- Elasticity of working hours
- Relationship between the employer and employees.
As I have mentioned earlier, the location of the work is anywhere apart from the traditional working area. It can vary from home to a nearby cafe. Anywhere is appropriate as long as it provides a comfortable working environment. Technical support includes items that are used in order to work.
Working on a PC or a laptop with an active internet connection is the only requirement for teleworking. This gives comparatively more elasticity in the working hours of the teleworker.
Working hours may vary as long as the worker completes the work in the given deadline. The last factor is the relationship between the employee and employer that depends upon the nature of the work.
Policies for a Successful Teleworking System:
1. Based on position:
A successful teleworking system needs the company to hire the individual depending upon the need of the company. This will ensure that teleworking benefits the company more than the traditional working method. A better way to judge the demand and benefit of teleworking is by understanding the operational need for a certain position.
For Example, if the job refers to that of a person who has to work to promote the product in the virtual world through social media. These jobs mostly include online presence hence, teleworking may prove to be benefiting. However, if the job description includes face to face communication then the teleworking method is not applicable.
2. Resource availability:
IT, also known as Information Technology, is a necessary part of teleworking. Before implementing new technologies for the teleworking system, companies must first conduct valid research on the benefit versus the expense of the organization.
Employers are advised to understand the working environment of the teleworker first in order to avail the needed technology. Moreover, it also helps in setting the program policy of the company.
3. Policies and guidelines:
Teleworking refers to the invisible form of working. In this working program, the employer and the employee do not meet on a regular basis hence, it is important for the employers to create a policy or guideline that helps in working smoothly.
This policy may specify the reporting period, deadlines of the assigned work, teleworking hours of availability (as required according to the task), performance and teleworking evaluation standards, etc.
Moreover, it is advisable for the employers to monitor the employee regularly according to the work, as it will prove to be a convenient way to communicate and rectify any possible problem in the given period.
4. Selection based on teleworking skills of the employee:
A business thrives in the economy when a driving force continuously pushes the paddle. However, if one of the functions fails the development turns stagnant. Similarly, it is important for employers to set the selection process based on the skills required for teleworking.
A teleworker needs to be self-motivated, self-directed, self-sufficient, self-disciplined, firmly focused and a good problem solver. There is one more skill, which is a very important one i.e. perfect communication skill (both verbal and written).
Moreover, the working environment or condition is also a factor that employees should consider thoroughly. The productivity of the employee greatly depends on the environment and the setting of the work.
Teleworking Advantages and Disadvantages:
Advantages of Teleworking for Employees:
Teleworking provides easy solution to save some time for the family and friends, it also helps in balancing both lives lastly, it saves the time (of traveling)
1. No Childcare expenses:
Teleworking helps in reducing childcare expenses. Especially for single parent, child care matters a lot. They have to manage their children along with the work. Moreover, they do not like to stay away from their loved ones.
However, teleworking is a great solution to cut short on childcare center expenses. It provides you more time for your family. However, you might still need the childcare service but for lesser hours. It is a blessing in disguise. A package holds both the wishes together.
2. Freedom and elasticity of work:
It gives increased independence and freedom to work. It promotes comparatively more creativity and productivity. It is of solitary nature that avails a not so distracting environment to work. That means that teleworking is free of office politics, stressful and busy office atmosphere, strict rules, etc. It provides more freedom to you so that you can work according to you. It is indeed elastic in nature.
3. Cut shorts the unnecessary expenses:
Teleworkers have the freedom to wake up and get to work within the night suit. If the night suit does not provide comfort then they might end up with anything they like. There is no dress code for working at home.
However, office demands for a proper dress code along with suitable accessories. Thus, compared to office going worker, teleworker doesn’t need to buy any formal clothes. Apart from the dress code, teleworker is blessed to have their kitchen. Thus, they save on daily lunches, petrol / gas, etc.
4. Fitness freak’s favorite thing:
Are you a fitness freak? Well, if you were a fitness freak, then you would love the idea of being teleworking. Teleworker requires no dress code and no definite schedule. This flexibility of the working program allows you to take a break at a certain interval.
Thus, during the power break, you can go out for a five minutes run. If you prefer doing a set of dumbbells or sit-ups and push-ups, then teleworking lets you do that. It is hence a package of the desired job plus a healthy living. It is indeed a favorable job for fitness lovers.
5. Sick leaves or germs have no effect:
Germs spread through air. If a sick person comes to work then he or she is capable of getting few of the colleagues sick too. As a result, it increases the number of employee out on sick leave.
However, a teleworker is far away from the reach of germs from the colleagues. This makes it possible to keep on working. Moreover, even when a teleworker falls sick, he continues working. Thus, teleworking decreases the number of absentees/sick leave. This is a boon for the employee as well as the employer.
6. Healthy is the keyword:
A healthy work environment promotes better productivity. How is teleworking healthy? Along with being a teleworker, they are parents, spouse, etc. As a family member, one would always choose environment-friendly cleaners in the home. Teleworker is saved from the harsh chemicals of office cleaners. Moreover, teleworkers can facilitate their offices with plants or other healthy things of their choices.
Teleworking has several pros however; let us look at the cons of teleworking.
Disadvantages of Teleworking for Employees:
From the above points, we can conclude that teleworking is an effective and efficient program for all kinds of working organizations. However, we cannot overlook the pitfalls of this program. The common drawbacks of this program are as follow-
1. A little bit extra:
A teleworker, who generally works from home, is most of the time at home. This makes it quite possible for the company to request some extra work. Being at home all the time for work comes with its drawbacks. It makes the work more like a boring routine with no environmental change.
It seems similar to that of a monologue. Hence, gradually the motivating factor diminishes and affects the usual productivity. Thus, you must first include and clarify the working hours as well as the time to contact you for work.
2. Home-based worker is no worker:
A home-based worker is always perceived as the one who works lesser than a traditional office-going worker is. The reason is that the teleworker works from the home, he or she is in more comfort compared to the office worker.
Thus, regardless of the workload, a teleworkers accomplishments are counted lesser. Therefore, it is advised to demonstrate the available workload along with the accomplishments.
3. Limitless working hours:
Even though it seems that teleworker has more advantages and the chance to be productive, a teleworker has no definite time. The elasticity of time also brings certain drawbacks.
Due to no on or off time from work, it is possible for the teleworker to work for limitless hours. A frequent habit of checking work-related emails during family time is another problem associated with teleworking.
4. Unlimited availability of distractions:
Distractions are inversely proportionate to productivity. A comfortable environment of the home is equipped with various distractions too. For some people, it is very easy to fall into the trap of distractions. It makes it impossible to be productive at home.
Pleasurable activities like television watching, talking with friends, or other family problems that prove to be distracting may affect the rate and amount of work done. Hence, it becomes a time-consuming task. Moreover, it is fewer tasks done in more time.
5. Personal and professional life separation:
A teleworker is a human being and not a robot. Hence, there are no office mode and home mode switch in the system. It becomes impossible for the worker to work without messing and adding one problem to the other sector of life. People always advise separating both the lives however, home-based worker faces more difficulty in doing so.
Moreover, the overworking or the lazy nature, both affect the schedule severely. Having a separate room, which separates the home setting from your work area, is the only way to create balance.
6. Lack of required guidance:
Working away from the office may have several pros but it cannot provide the required guidance on time. At times, you do have certain queries regarding the assigned project or you might want some suggestions from the co-worker or the employer.
While working from home it is impossible to get an instant reply from anyone, which consumes a lot of time. Moreover, this increases the chances of making a mistake or the dissatisfaction of the client. Hence, due to no direct supervision and oversight, teleworking may affect the on-going project.
7. Solitary confinement in disguise:
Working alone may accompany a price. A teleworker is blessed with the elasticity of working hours and the freedom to choose them. However, for an interactive person, teleworking is a form of punishment.
It is solitary confinement in disguise. Working alone in solitude can make the working atmosphere isolating and break free compared to the traditional office program. Here, the person experiences no change and has no one to talk to in the working period to ease the workload.
Tips for Interactive Employees:
Nothing can totally replace the effectiveness of face-to-face communication. However, choosing other interactive techniques like video calling, messaging, etc to fix the solitary feeling is also efficient. Moreover, an occasional change of the setting may also prove to be helpful in being more productive.
1. Obstacle in career advancements:
Teleworkers are the invisible workers that contribute to the company without being seen. This invisible factor in itself proves to be a dangerous thing. Out of sight is out of mind, hence, for invisible workers being recognized is a tough task.
As a result, teleworking can make the career stagnant i.e. without any promotions. This will indirectly shut off the motivating factor and the productivity decreases.
2. Healthcare, Medical facilities and Accident:
Employer liabilities are the biggest issue concerning teleworking. Medical care of the employee that is a result of poor home office arrangement or home-office accidents come under the employers’ insurance. However, the confusion regarding the liability persists.
Hence, teleworking comes in a package of both, pros and cons. It is of subjective nature depending upon the need of the company and the skill of the employee. Further, teleworkers may face a number of problems but if they use correct tactics, they can easily tackle the problems.