Telecommuting Pros and Cons

TELECOMMUTING: Pros and cons Rhonda Bracey SOEWA August 2014 #cybertext


Presentation to the Society of Editors (WA) Winter Seminar, 16 August 2014

Transcript of Telecommuting Pros and Cons

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TELECOMMUTING: Pros and consRhonda BraceySOEWA

August 2014


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“The virtual office has existed for at least a century... Clothing factories used to drop off piecework at the homes of stay-at-home mothers who would sew the pieces together and receive payment on a per-item basis. …it’s simple enough to give a worker a remote login to your network, a high-speed Internet connection, or whatever other connectivity service she requires.”

Lee, TJ. The Virtual Office: Part 2

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How many minutes of this per day? 10? 20? 30? 45? 60? More?

“I’m sitting in a traffic jam, in the car that I need to get to work, so that I can pay for the house that I’m never in.”

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How far/long is your daily commute?

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RAC WA Horizons, June/July 2014, p9

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Only to face this for 8+ hours…

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Just 3 minutes walk away…

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Worked remotely full-time since Feb 2007 Several long-term clients in that time (WA, Qld, Tas, Israel, US) Main client since late 2008: Chevron (Gorgon LNG Project) Rarely, if ever, meet my clients/work colleagues Mostly do technical editing for large teams of authors

About me

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No commute; no madly running errands on the way home; no ironing! More time for family, leisure activities

More discretionary time

Reduce or cut out: expensive lunches, snacks, drinks (coffee!); parking, public transport, fuel, car wear and tear; wardrobe updates, laundry, shoes/stockings, makeup/hair/nails

Reduced costs (~$10,000 pa saved)

No/fewer meetings; no water cooler chat; few ad hoc interruptions (prairie dogging); little office politics

Greater productivity

Few interruptions = meet deadlines; work hours to suit body clock/commitments; not rushing; fewer take-outs/meals out; more time for exercise; don’t catch/transmit bugs

Less stress/better health

Not running car as often; not consuming as much Reduced footprint on Earth

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But it’s not all roses…

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Miss ad hoc work and social relationships with co-workers; out of the loop; no body language/facial expression nuances Isolation

Possible increase in power/internet/phone costs; equipment/software costs if employer doesn’t provide; dedicated office space and furniture

Increased costs

Family/friends may assume you’re ‘always available’ to do other tasks (chores, shopping, kid taxi, coffee/lunch etc.)Interruptions

Managers/co-workers may assume you’re doing nothing or doing things other than workPerceptions

Can be too easy to work all hours and not separate home/work lifeOverworking

Self-discipline is essential otherwise you’ll get nothing done; beware of distracting yourself with non-work tasksUnderworking

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It’s about managing…

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Yourself and your time (discipline/routine)

Perceptions of others (ALWAYS be available during core hours)

Interruptions (train your spouse, family, friends)

Your workspace (dedicated is best, with a door)

Your mental and physical health (exercise regime, social contact)

Your employer/manager (who pays for what; negotiate core hours)

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Helping hands: If you have these…

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Consider telecommuting

(at least some of the time)

Existing work/


Existing reputation

Supportive employer

Supportive family

Good self-discipline

Appropriate environment

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Who is telecommuting for?

Editors! Any worker who DOESN’T need to:

interact face-to-face with others use specialised equipment work in a specialised location NOT suitable: e.g. trades, retail, reception, hospitality

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Work types conducive for telecommuting

Suitable work types: ANY! Occasional, temporary, PT, FT, permanent, consultant, contractor…

Suitable time periods: ANY! Full-time, few days a week, occasional, temporarily FT for a period…

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Temporary situations for telecommuting

Physical health issues: e.g.: short-/long-term conditions (e.g. chronic

fatigue, broken limb) recovering from illness/hospital stay temporary or permanent physical limitations

Mental health issues: e.g. anxiety disorders Personal issues: e.g.:

death in the family primary caregiver for an extended period but can work some of

the time need time to meet/consult others (e.g. dealing with financial

issues, health issues, car issues, trades etc.)© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd

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Takeaways: Internet essential—the faster the better Remote access and collaboration tools are

getting better all the time Keep in contact—have regular voice meetings

with manager/colleagues

Connecting Technologies

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MINIMUM: Broadband connection (>1.5 Mbps)

Websites, email, social media

Conference calls: phone and/or video

Transfer/backup data files

Connect securely to another system (VPN)

Work on another system as though you were there (Windows Remote Desktop: free)

Instant messaging (e.g. Microsoft Lync in corporate environment)

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Landline, mobile, VOIP (e.g. Skype, Cisco)

Skype:• Computer to computer (free)• Smartphone app, conference calls, video calls, chat, voicemail,

file transfer, screen sharing...

Cisco IP Phone option if already used in office:• Office phone directory• Dedicated local number/extension

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Web conference/screen sharing tools

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Provider Pricing (in US$, as at June 2014) Website

WebEx Free (up to 3 people); $24/month (up to 8); $49/month (up to 25)

GoToMeeting $49/month (up to 25); 30-day free trial Adobe Connect

From $45/month; also ‘pay per use’ option: 32c/user/minute

Microsoft Lync Online

Various prices depending on Office 365 subs, corporate installations etc. Join Me Free; Pro version from $13/month

Fuze Meeting Free (up to 25); $8/month (up to 125)

A Google search for web conferencing applications gives >92 million results! Many apps are suitable for tablets too. Examples:

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Remote access requirements

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If you need to access:

your own system while on the road

a client’s system from anywhere

then you’ll need this information…

Domain name, username, password Client sys admin to allow VPN access Tools to provide access, such as:

Remote Desktop (Windows; free!) remote access to server and networked

PCs via web Microsoft Outlook Web Access (if using

Exchange Server) commercial desktop and web tools

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Commercial remote access tools

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Provider Pricing (US$, as at June 2014) Website

GoToMyPC $10/month for access to one PC (30-day free trial)

LogMeIn From $99/year (free trial)

TeamViewer From $699/year

Soonr From $30/month (3 users)


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IT help

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If no access to corporate IT help, consider ‘pay per use’ on-demand on-site or remote services

Some have pre-paid cover plans, managed IT services

Examples: PC Guru ( Geeks2U (

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Example collaboration tools

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Document sharing tools (e.g. Google Drive, Office 365)

File sharing tools (e.g. Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox)

Project management tools (e.g. BaseCamp, ToodleDo)

Microsoft SharePoint: Tries to do all the above in the one package; success varies…

Other: Content management systems, wikis, forums, blogs, Twitter (!)

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Twitter examples

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Takeaways: Essentials: dedicated space with a door Get a GOOD chair

Home Office

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Minimum equipment

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PC and/or laptop

Modem/router (preferably with WiFi)

Printer (multifunction for single footprint—copy, scan, print, fax)

Headset (or microphone + speakers [often built-in to laptops])

External, portable hard drives/thumb drives

Phone (smartphone is ‘one device to rule them all’)

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Nice to have…

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Tablet (iPad etc.)

WiFi connection (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet)

Webcam (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet)

Travel-sized bits and pieces (mouse, cables, WiFi dongles)

Digital voice recorder (try your phone/tablet)

Digital camera (or phone/tablet camera)

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Stuff for your body

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Decent desk + chair (you’ll spend a LOT of hours at both, so don’t scrimp)

Quiet/free from distractions (noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs)

Good lighting

Temperature control


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Just for video calls

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Check background for inappropriate, messy, personal items (test!)(Is anything growing out of your head?; use fake background image or screen to cover mess)

Ban pets, children, others from the room (lock the door, ‘On Air’ sign)

Work in a silent room if possible (no background noises: screeching birds, barking dogs, vacuum cleaners, drills, microwave beeps, etc.)

Mute any room noises (e.g. phones, alarms, computer notification pings)

Watch for bright lighting (can distract, wash out, or make your face dark)

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Takeaways: Costs of commuting are huge—time, money,

mental health ‘Employers of choice’ are those that offer

flexible approaches to where/how you work

Facts and figures

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Some facts…

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UK companies spent £24 billion on business travel in 20111

It costs UK employers £7000 per person per desk for office workers1

90% of office workers would like to work from home some of the time1

35% of tech professionals would sacrifice up to 10% of their salaries for full-time telecommuting2

Microsoft dramatically reduced Australian office rent by encouraging employees to telecommute and ‘hot desk’3

1. From "Home of the future" Episode 2: Work (TwoFour Broadcast Ltd, 2012; presenter Chris Sanderson)2.

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Results from studies on commuting…

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Lengthy, unpredictable commutes affect physical and emotional wellbeing1

Commuting strain nervousness/tension, pain/stiffness, irritability, fatigue1

>10% of parents in paid employment spend more time each week commuting than with their children1

On the IBM Commuter Pain Index2 (1 to 100), Sydney is 40, Brisbane 34, Melbourne 32, Adelaide 22, Perth 19 (Beijing and Mexico City = 99)

31% surveyed3 said traffic was often so bad they turned around and went home (69% in Beijing!)

1. From Flood, Michael and Barbato, Claire (2005) Off to Work: Commuting in Australia, Australia Institute, Canberra.2. IBM Commuter Pain Index (2011): IBM Commuter Pain Index (2010):

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Effects of commuting on mental health

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Main article: Swedish study: Stutzer and Frey (German study):

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Takeaways: Search for ‘remote working’, teleworking’

‘telecommuting’, ‘working from home’ Plenty available on benefits/costs of telecommuting

and convincing arguments for your boss List of some on my blog: http



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Just for fun….

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Any questions?

Contact me: Email: [email protected] Website: Blog: Twitter: @cybertext LinkedIn:

Thank you…

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