Advances in technology have made it possible for many employees to work from their homes or on the road instead of having to go to a place of business. These remote workers have many advantages such eliminating the commute to work which gives them more productive use of their time. They stay in contact with coworkers through telephone, emails and video conferencing and submit all their work online. Although telecommuting has benefits for both the employer and employee, there are some situations where remote workers are at a disadvantage.
- Hallway meetings – Coworkers who work together in the same building often discuss things informally in the hall or break room that the remote worker is unable to be privy to. This leaves the telecommuter at a big disadvantage by not being able to participate in the day to day office conversation. Even with the best communications systems, many small details will be missed that can affect the ability of the remote workers to do their jobs effectively.
- IT problems – Modern technology is fantastic but not infallible. Electronic glitches or internet problems can leave the remote worker helpless and unable to get their work submitted as needed. This is particularly bad for critically time sensitive material. If the boss is depending on a report from a remote employee, but doesn’t get it in time for the meeting because of technical difficulties, everyone looks bad.
- Misunderstanding instructions – Emails are a great way to communicate quickly and efficiently to coworkers, but they also are at risk for misunderstandings to occur. Written instructions that may seem pretty straightforward to the author can be totally misinterpreted by the reader. Remote workers are often denied the advantage of seeing facial expressions and hearing vocal inflections that can influence the meaning of words. A lot of time and productivity can be wasted by silly mistakes in electronic communications.
- Promotions – Another disadvantage to remote workers are opportunities for promotions within the company they work for. Employees who work from home may find themselves in a stagnant job description and be unable to advance their careers and pay scale. Supervisory positions are most likely to be offered to employees who actually work at the place of business and the lack of visibility for telecommuters can leave them overlooked for other promotions as well.
- Socializing with coworkers – There’s no question that the social network of coworkers is an important part of anyone’s job. Having personal relationships away from the workplace is a great advantage for advancing one’s career and building a good rapport with coworkers. Remote workers are usually left out of these social gatherings. They’re not going to be invited to stop after work at the local watering hole to unwind or be able to participate in impromptu office parties.
The ability to work for a company from a remote location has opened up great opportunities for many people. It allows one spouse to retain their employment while the other is required to relocate. Telecommuting also gives parents the ability to stay home with young children while still retaining an income and salespeople to get their work done while remaining on the move. However, it’s important to know the disadvantages inherent in a remote worker’s position. By carefully weighing both the pros and cons of each situation, employees can make the best decision whether a remote job will work for them.