The Ugly, the Bad and the Good about Telecommuting

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to work from home.  In spite of the fact that few enjoy being cooped up at home, a lot of people do enjoy the idea of telecommuting and hope that this modality extends beyond COVID-19.  Not everything about working remotely is peaches and cream, but I think it has more advantages than disadvantages. 

The ugly includes the lack of trust of some towards the employees and the abuse of some in the telecommuting modality.  Not trusting the employees results in detailed time registries or activity monitoring software that can feel as an invasion of privacy and which revision can overload both the employees as well as the supervisors.  On the other hand, there might be employees working from home that use tools that simulate work activity, such as automatic mouse movements.  None of these extremes is good.  This is why team trust should be cultivated and work should be based on specific targets.  ¿What is the use of monitoring the details if nothing is accomplished?  One can work all day without being productive. 

The bad about telecommuting are the expenses needed to implement it and the lack of human contact.  If the company was not technologically prepared, it must make the investments needed and acquire the tools to make remote work easier.  Employees will also have to adjust their homes and establish a space to work, which can increase their electricity, internet, and office equipment expenses.  The ergonomic issue is also worrisome.  Offices have proper desks, chairs and monitors for good posture, and homes not necessarily so, but this is a necessary investment if you are telecommuting long term.  Another issue is communication.  Sharing office space allows us to also share informal conversations which generate camaraderie and friendships.  The lack of this type of exchanges can make work colder and impersonal and not everyone knows how to deal with this aspect. 

The good … this includes a lot of things.  First, more time with the pillow, not having to travel from home to our workplace gives us a little more flexibility to sleep and spend more time with our family, and the body is grateful for those extra minutes of sleep.  Second, more control of your time.  For those who live far from their workplace, this is a blessing.  The time spent traveling from one place to another can be replaced by activities that we enjoy more.  Third, more productivity.  Not having distractions with people working around us or our coworkers that want to chat, makes us more focused and more productive during working hours.  Fourth, companies that adopt long term telecommuting can save on office space and public services.  Fifth, innovation.  This new reality is generating all kinds of solutions to make our lives easier and has forced us to adopt them, which propels us to another level.  I am excited by the new things that are coming out.  And finally, health.  Telecommuting, especially during COVID-19, if possible in our professions, is the most sensible decision for the health of the team.  Clearly, the positive aspects outweigh the negatives.  Telecommuting is here to stay.  Although adjustments need to be made to tend to this new normal, COVID-19 threw the obsolete theory that work had to be done on site overboard and we have proved that it is possible and that it works.  During these changing times, the ones that adapt faster will have a better chance of success. 

Leave a Reply