Telecommuting – An Ultimate Guide

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Thank heavens for the tech growth!

Your employees can now work from anywhere.

The increasing number of tech tools has allowed companies to work from different locations at home or that favorite coffee shop!

This article talks all about telecommuting – what it is, how it works, managing telecommuting, pros and cons, and so much more.

So, let’s bombard you with some telecommuting information!

What is Telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a working arrangement where employees work from a different location instead of their traditional workplace. This means employees work from their homes or their preferred location (café, library, etc.) for one or more days a week.

While telecommuting, employees use different apps and tech platforms to stay connected with their co-workers in the office. It is also known as e-commuting, teleworking, or working remotely. Most industries like sales, publishing, marketing, and customer support offer telecommuting positions.

Employees can also perform jobs like programming or anything related to software via telecommuting. Even medical professionals like radiologists have started working from home.

How does Telecommuting Work?

Employees are happy that they are no longer required to travel for hours battling the traffic. They can save time and money.

Working remotely allows employees to work from their homes or nearby locations. They use telecommunication like phone calls, online chats, video calling platforms, and emails to stay connected with their teams.

If your employees have access to WiFi and the necessary apps like Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc., you are all set to start telecommuting. These platforms and apps have made communication and collaboration seamless.

However, if employees are required, they can visit the office once or twice a week. But with the video conferencing apps, there is no need for employees to visit the office most of the time. Hence, some people prefer full-time telecommuting (like freelancers), and others might choose to visit their office once or twice a week or even a month. The main goal of getting the work done can be easily achieved in both ways.

What are the Different Types of Telecommuting

Modern technology has made working from different locations possible, and that is what telecommuting is all about. You simply need a strong internet connection, the required apps and tools, and of course, a computer.

Now, what’s interesting is that there’s more to telecommuting!

Telecommuting has three different types. That means the telecommuting jobs fall under these three categories based on where and how your employees complete their tasks.

The three types of telecommuting are discussed as below.

Virtual job

These job positions are independent of location. There is no obligation that an employee needs to visit the office for work.

Most companies with virtual job openings do not have a brick-and-mortar office. They might mainly employ contractors or freelancers to get their work done.

There might be requirements like working from a specific location for the company taxes, legal compliances, or accounts in a few situations. But all in all, virtual jobs offer a lot of flexibility.

Remote work

An employee with a remote job position mainly works from any location other than the employer’s office. They might work from home, library, nearby coffee shop, or even a park.

However, employees working remotely might need to attend office meetings at their workplace. Other than that, you can also include employees who are mostly traveling for their job under remote workers. For instance, salespeople.

Work-from-home job

A work-from-home job position might (or might not) require employees to have a home office. But generally, employers expect the workers to be available during business hours.

However, most companies today do not go after micromanaging their employees. They evaluate the employee based on their work and ability to meet deadlines. In other words, the result matters more than how the employees have achieved it.

How to Manage Telecommuting?

When you introduce telecommuting, there is a shift or transition in the entire work environment. You must manage this transition well to avoid chaos or confusion.

What works best is to create company policies that help manage telecommuting employees. Plus, make sure that your employees have the necessary equipment for this shift in the work environment.

So, here are three rules that you might follow to ensure proper management of telecommuting jobs.

Construct telecommuting policies

As we have already mentioned, defining telecommuting policies is necessary. Generally, employers who offer telecommuting jobs have their policy. The policy details how to do the work, assess it, employee availability hours, and other important information.

Employers also use these policies to advertise new positions that telecommuters can perform from a location other than the company’s physical office.

Assist employees when required

As an employer, you might offer a stipend to employees to use technology or rent a co-working space. Few companies also provide laptops for telecommuting employees.

But mostly, it is the employee’s responsibility to find a suitable place for their work – that has stable internet connectivity.

Stay connected via technology

Telecommuting is possible only because there are suitable tech tools. Whether Zoom or Google Meet, messaging apps, project management platforms, or simple smartphones, modern technology can keep telecommuting going.

Companies that offer telecommuting jobs have specific tools and platforms for telecommuting jobs. They utilize these tech tools to stay in touch with the employees. The most common tools used by companies include Google docs, zoom or google meet, Trello, WhatsApp, etc.

So, these three rules are a must if you offer (or are planning to open) telecommuting job positions. Make sure you have the rules in place before you start transitioning from a traditional to a telecommuting work environment.

Here are a Few Popular Telecommuting Jobs

There are several jobs that you can offer as telecommuting jobs. Most of these jobs require internet connectivity and computers and phones.

Among the many telecommuting jobs available, here are a few popular ones.

  • Software engineer
  • Web developers/ designers
  • Content writers
  • Travel agents
  • Interpreter/ Translators
  • Consultants (Legal or Accounting)
  • Graphic designers

Besides these, we have specific departments that offer telecommuting jobs. Here’s a list of the departments and the telecommuting jobs therein.

Customer Support

  • Call center and support agents
  • Customer success manager
  • Maintenance

Marketing & Sales

  • Social media specialist
  • Content writers/ marketers
  • Salesperson
  • Affiliate marketers
  • Brand ambassador
  • Community manager

Education & Training

  • Tutor
  • Personal trainer/ coach
  • Curriculum writer
  • Instructor

Administration

  • Accountant
  • Administrative assistant
  • Site manager

Healthcare

  • Tele doctor
  • Healthcare consultant
  • Clinical trial manager

Though you can shift most jobs to telecommuting opportunities, a few positions work well through physical presence. For instance, doctors, counselors, or therapists. Also, people working as security guards, office or floor managers, lab workers, sales associates, cashiers, etc., cannot telecommute.

Why does Telecommuting have a Location Requirement?

As easy and flexible as it might seem, employers must consider certain telecommuting requirements. Though most telecommuting jobs are flexible and provide the facility to work from anywhere, a few might have location requirements.

For example, while employees might have the freedom to work remotely, they might be called to the office for meetings and occasional events as a few meetings might demand physical interactions.

Another reason why a telecommuting job might have location requirements is tax and legal compliance.

For instance, if your employee has certain licenses, permits, or certifications, they might be eligible for limited job positions within those states where the credentials are valid.

Advantages of Telecommuting

Will you be surprised to know that 83% of people in a survey said that working from home makes them happier?

Well, that’s one of the many reasons why telecommuting has become so popular.

Further, there are several benefits of telecommuting jobs. Here’s a list including a few telecommuting benefits.

  • Employees have greater flexibility
  • They get to save time and money
  • Employees are generally more productive
  • Low absenteeism
  • Higher employee satisfaction and retention
  • Employers can also save money on their office space and utilities
  • Telecommuting might be a good option for sick or injured employees

Disadvantages of Telecommuting

Like the benefits, telecommuting jobs have a few disadvantages too.

Here’s a list of the disadvantages of telecommuting that you must consider before opening job positions.

  • Employees might feel left out
  • Employers and teams might face difficulty building a solid relationship with telecommuting employees.
  • Brainstorming and collaboration on projects might be difficult
  • If there are differences in time zones, meetings and calls can be problematic
  • Employees might find it difficult to draw the line between working hours and personal time
  • Less experienced or skilled employees might feel the need to work with supervisors and built-in support systems
  • There might be more distractions at home than at offices.

Factors To Consider While Choosing Telecommuters

You cannot deny the flexibility of telecommuting. Telecommuters have the freedom to adjust their work schedule and decide the time.

So, telecommuting positions seem to be a perfect fit for people who do not prefer 9 to 5 jobs. But as an employer, before you offer a telecommuting position, make sure to ask the employee about the following factors.

Location

You must know about the location your employee will be working from most of the time. Ask a few questions like;

  • What are your options for a workspace?
  • Will you be working from home or elsewhere?

You might also ask the applicants about their workspace set up and comfortably meet deadlines from their work location.

Availability

When it comes to the employee’s availability, it depends on the employer and the telecommuting position how long the employee has to be available.

If you have fixed business hours when the employee needs to be available, communicate that. If not, make sure you interact with the employee about the flexibility of the position and if they can be available during the standard work hours.

Communication

Ask the employee about the communication platforms that you use for business communications. For instance, ask if the employee has access to slack, zoom, and other communication tools.

Also, let the employee know if the position demands attending the office frequently for meetings and conferences.

Supplies and Equipment

An employee must have the proper equipment for telecommuting. A computer system or laptop, stable internet connectivity, phone are a few must-haves.

Additionally, employees must also have the necessary apps and tools like video conferencing platforms, messaging apps, email, etc. You might also mention any supplies being provided by the company.

Other than supplies and equipment, also ensure that you ask about cybersecurity. Discuss with the employee about their WiFi connectivity, its safety, and the system’s security with the employee.

Qualifications

As an employer, you will know the qualification requirement or eligibility of an applicant.

Ask the employees if they have prior experience of telecommuting. You might also ask for a specific qualification that you need for the job role. Along with these, ask the employees if they would work with supervisors or independently.

Distractions

Employees must be disciplined and motivated if they opt for telecommuting jobs. Ask the candidates about their work environment and deliver results seamlessly. Also, ensure that the work environment of the telecommuter is free from distractions and supports productivity.

Teleworking can be beneficial if employers and employees interact and collaborate well. From the employee’s end, they must maintain a schedule and discipline. This will help meet deadlines and divide time between work and personal life.

Data Security

Telecommuting is impossible without technology. And data security is one of the most highlighted aspects of telecommuting technology.

With the growing issues of ransomware and hacking, employers must be more aware and concerned about cybersecurity.

Mostly, remote working systems face more significant security risks than the main company offices. Hence, it is a must to protect the systems and connections of telecommuters.

So, what can you do to ensure data security in telecommuting jobs?

Here are a few pointers that might help ensure data security.

Awareness and Education

Make sure your telecommuting employees know data security issues like hacking. Communicate the protection practices like locking systems, tablets, etc. when not in use, using strong passwords, avoiding public WiFi connections, using cybersecurity software like Quick Heal, etc.

Installing company equipment

You might also choose to provide equipment to telecommuters for data security. You can ensure providing updated security protection and a secure VPN. These tools are a must for protecting and encrypting your company system.

Offer assistance and limited access

Help out your telecommuting employees. Make sure your in-house experts and IT teams are available to remotely log into their systems and fix any security issues if required. Also, make sure you provide access only to the required data. Keep the sensitive data protected through credentialing.

Create policies

When it is about data security, you must take no risk. Get into agreements with employees before they join as telecommuters. Your agreement should include the policies related to how employees can use the company equipment.

Also, you must mention the equipment that employees do not have access to. Further, make sure that you restrict the use of personal files as they might introduce malware into the system and take up space.

Other than this, create a policy that restricts the use and storage of sensitive data.

Telecommuting vs. Remote Work – What are the Differences?

The terms telecommuting and remote work are often used interchangeably. Both the terms mean the same thing, but there is a difference between the two.

Considering telework vs. remote, we can say that telework allows employees to work from an offsite location – home, coffee shop, bookstore, another office branch, or even a coworking space. Telecommuters generally work part-time or full-time from their homes and occasionally visit the office for meetings or events.

On the other hand, remote work allows employees to work from anywhere with stable internet connectivity. Remote workers are typically located at a distance. You might not even meet them in person. But remote workers work closely with the rest of the team through apps and tech platforms.

Legal Considerations of Telecommuting

There are certain legal considerations of telecommuting that work for both sides – the employer and the employee. For employers, it is important to consult a legal expert before opening up telecommuting jobs.

Ensure that you have the policies in place before starting with telecommuting. Without legal guidelines and policies, telecommuting might impact compliances in several areas like;

Workers’ compensation

Under telecommuting policy, workers’ compensation laws are often the same for telecommuters and office-based workers. So, clarify safety and liability issues for the offsite employees.

Wages and timekeeping

State and federal wage and hour laws apply to telecommuters. Hence, it is necessary to track the actual work hours, ensuring compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Privacy and confidentiality

Assess how offsite employees might impact compliance with data privacy laws and any other laws relevant to your business.

Equal employment and opportunity – Under this legal compliance, you must provide all employees with equal employment opportunities. The equal employment and opportunity laws mandate equality in hours, wages, and other terms and conditions related to employment.

Independent contractor status

Do not avoid legal issues by misclassifying offsite workers as independent contractors. If the workers are not independent contractors, it might result in hefty penalties for your business.

Make Telecommuting Easier With Multiplier

If you want a structured telecommuting work environment, find a platform to simplify your transition to telecommuting working.

One such platform is Multiplier which can help you with your telecommuting needs. With Multiplier, you can manage your onboarding process and create a powerful workforce.

The solution offered by Multiplier is 100% reliable. It takes care of everything – employee payroll, taxes, benefits, hiring, contract management, and the entire employment process.

So, explore Multiplier’s different solutions – Onboarding, EOR, Payroll and Employee benefits automation, and more to ensure the perfect shift to telecommuting.

Start your free demo now!

Hiring and onboarding using Multiplier ensures you hire remote talent with locally compliant, fool-proof job contracts, offer emphatic benefits and disburse salaries accurately with absolutely nil errors in payrolls.