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Disadvantages to Telecommuting

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Telework, telecommuting or remote work: whatever way you say it, logging work from outside the office is gaining popularity. So what’s wrong with telecommuting?
The team at Online Business Degree lists 7 Disadvantages to Telecommuting. But are any of these really unique to the home office?

For example, check out item #3:

If you work at home and have children, your physical presence may be confusing for them, especially while you’re trying to remain detached and focused on your work. If your partner doesn’t work at home and assumes you can drop what you’re doing and take care of a child-related crisis, you may become the “fallback child-care provider.”

This sounds problematic at first. But aren’t traditional workplace jobs full of these kinds of interruptions? We’ve all had colleagues who assume we can drop whatever we’re doing to help them. At least at home, the perpetrator of this distraction isn’t someone who controls your paycheck.

Telecommuting home office set up for telework

© Flickr user chainsawpanda

Item #5 makes an interesting suggestion:

There is evidence that being out of sight means being out of mind, especially when it comes to how your manager is evaluating your performance and determining whether or not you get a raise or promotion

The staff writer doesn’t cite this “evidence”, but the real problem here is one that is masked by working in the office. This says you aren’t being judge by your results, but rather by face time. If you’re more likely get a promotion by showing up more instead of getting more done, you might want promote yourself to a new job by sending out resumes.

If none of the seven items suggested are actual drawbacks to telecommuting, then are there any genuine downsides? Consider the following:

Rapid-fire, highly creative collaboration works best in person. If you’re trying to solve an urgent and unusual problem, or brainstorm crazy ideas for a new campaign, you’re not going to have as much success through instant messenger or on a teleconference.

Highly emotional or sensitive interactions that leverage body language. When it’s time to negotiate a contract, interview a new potential customer-facing retail employee, wow investors, or deliver bad news, you’re going to want to make the trek to headquarters.

Recognition and celebration. When heralding someone’s accomplishments or ringing in a successful year, it helps for the champagne to be clinked in person.

Are there downsides to telecommuting? Sure. But most of the problems at work have nothing to do with where you are. In fact, working somewhere else for a while tends to bring a sharp focus on the importance of getting work done rather than just looking busy.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@lorraineball First probably depends on the business. But second is likely training, especially with regard to sales. - 4 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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