The Missing Piece In Getting People To Telecommute? Gas Prices

from the and-so-it-goes dept

There have been plenty of stories about how telecommuting has become more popular in the last few years as the technology has reached a level where it really is possible to work at home almost as if you were at work. Still, there have been cultural issues to deal with — especially the view that telecommuters were slacking off at home. However, it looks like the continually rising gas prices are making telecommuting appear to be much more appealing to many workers — and some are wondering if it’s one of the missing elements in creating a new wave of telecommuting employees.

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Comments on “The Missing Piece In Getting People To Telecommute? Gas Prices”

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Greg says:

Re: My boss is the missing puzzle piece

The “boss problem” is also the case where I work.

I am a mainframe automation programmer, and as far as I’m concerned, that is a job that could easily be done from home. I’d really only need to come to work for face-to-face meetings which occur maybe twice a month, or severe system problems which occur maybe twice a year.

However, I have to admit my bosses reservations are not necessarily without merit. If I were to work from home “by the book” (at least at my company), that would mean:

1) supplying me with new hardware: I’d need a more expensive laptop from the home-access pool, instead of the clunky old desktop they put in my office.

2) Reimbursing me monthly for my phone and broadband expense: The office is where the money has already been spent on these things, so they won’t justify the additional cost for anyone who just feels like working from home.

3) My “accessibility” would be reduced: In my company, programming roles have both “project” responsibilities, and “support” responsibilities. Working from home would mean that those needing me for “support” would be forced to do it over the phone, or via chat, rather than in-person. Management views this as an unnecessary “barrier” to open communication, rather than a facilitation of it, and thus, will not approve working-from-home unless absolutely necessary.


GoodBytes (user link) says:

Some examples PRO telecommuting

I am a software developer, working for over 3 years for US companies, while I live in Europe. The first 2 years I was going to work in my local company, and this last year I work only from home. During all this period, I never had a problem that I could not solve because I was at home, and I was never late with my project schedule.

Another story: my local company develops and sells software to companies in my country (Macedonia), but also in the surrounding countries. The software is developed in my company’s offices, but some people can work from home if they want. After the project is finished and the software is installed at the customer’s site, we continue with education, and then with maintenance after that. All this is done remotely, and only in very small number of cases we send someone to go to the customer’s offices – usually when there is a hardware problem (and in case we are maintaining the client’s hardware, too). And, if the client is far from us, e.g. in another country, we have a partner-team located there, which can resolve hardware or communication problems. Thanks to all this, some of the software development team, the QA team, and the consultants and the CR team can work from home.

What I want to say is that the technology makes it possible for people to work remotely, giving them more time (to work and to rest), making them more productive, allowing them to work at more flexible hours, and also allowing them to promptly solve problems in so many cases.

And, since everybody in the food chain is happy, starting from the managers, through the clients, and finally the workers, where is the problem?

malhombre says:

Re: Some examples PRO telecommuting

Good post, real first-hand experience always trumps any studies, opinions, or second hand debate IMHO.

Yeah, and wouldn’t work at home tend to counteract the rising cost of gas? Demand Supply = Lowered Price, right? Not to mention the possible reduction of greenhouse gasses and traffic congestion and road rage and all that.

I am curious as to how you are managed and compensated. Seems to me that a deadline system (i.e. paid by the job, if delivered on time) would be the system most likely to work in this scenario, not sure how US labor law would affect that setup if at all.

Some companies may have other, legitimate reasons to shy away from work at home other than the corral and control rationale…for example, how do you effectively administer IT security that is spread out to individual homes – regardless of the technology issues, the company has no way of knowing who might be reading over your shoulder. Many companies, of course, are tight about their proprietary and internal methods, so this doesn’t only apply to obvious security issues like being a military contractor and such.

Not unresolveable, but maybe too complicated or involved an issue to allow many of them to think outside the box.

But it sure seems like a good idea if, like your example, it can be made to work effectively.

Chris says:

No Subject Given

I work in IT, doing mainly internal network, hardware upgrades, phone, PC, and WinTerm support.

Everything I can do at the office I can do from home through VPN. I have a broadband connection at home already that rivals our connection at the office. I get reimbursed for my cell phone up to $50/month and I carry a support pager when on call every 3rd weekend.

In fact, next week I’ll be working from home for 3 days. Only because we have external auditors coming in who need an office to work out of and my boss volunteered, since as he says, “We can work from anywhere with a decent Internet connection.” I drive 50 miles to work round trip every day so I am certainly not complaining about saving $20 in gas and tolls.

And since this is a slow time of year for our business I can carry the pager and just grab calls as they come in, while doing things around the house.

aullman (user link) says:

New options for telecommuters - Remote Office Centers

There is a new option for people who want to telecommute, but are uncomfortable working out of their home every day. They can work in a Remote Office Center located near where they live, and skip the long commute each day. Remote Office Centers lease individual offices, internet, and phone services to workers from multiple companies in secure shared centers that are located around the suburbs.

Telecommuting is analogous to an exercise program. Some people have the facilities and discipline to work out in the home. Others will tell you that they can not maintain a good work out routine unless they go to the gym. It is the same for telecommuters. Some people are very efficient working out of their home. Others need a place to go to.
Remote Office Centers provide structure and infrastructure. There is a web site where people can search for Remote Office Centers:

Workers spend all of their time on the phone and on the computer anyway. Most workers access computer systems that are located in other cities anyway. It is time for a paradigm shift. It is a small shift (how offices are provided), but it can greatly reduce fuel consumption, and lower commuting costs for employees everywhere.

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