Telecommuting is work arrangement in which the employee works outside the company’s office space, typically from home, coffee shops, libraries or other remote co-working spaces.
The employee communicates with employers, colleagues and clients via telephone, email and communication applications instead of in-person interactions. Sometimes, the employee might pay visits to the office to attend meetings and to touch base with employers, but there’s less and less of a need to do so as face-to-face interaction is replaced by virtual face-to-face interaction via mobile and desktop screens.
Does telecommute mean work from home?
While you can telecommute from home (or anywhere else you'd like), "working from home" often implies that someone is self-employed. Meanwhile, a telecommuter is usually employed by an organization, but does not work on-site 100 percent of the time.
What is the difference between working remotely and telecommuting?
While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they can imply slight differences in certain organizations. "Remote work" usually implies that the employee lives outside the geographical location of an organization, while "telecommuting"usually implies that the employee works on-site in certain instances.
What are the benefits of telecommuting?
As mentioned above, telecommuting means increased productivity and morale amongst employees, as they're in control of their own work environment and schedule. It also allows people to work more (because they're spending less time getting into the office), and allows people to work around personal obligations and appointments — reducing stress and improving work-life balance.
The pros and cons of telecommuting
5 pros of telecommuting:
Telecommuting can be a great option for both employers and employees. Here's how.
- Telecommuting allows employers to work with top talent regardless of their location. On the flip side, it allows employees to work with organizations no matter their location.
- Telecommuting allows employees to set their own schedule and work around personal obligations and appointments, meaning better work-life balance, higher productivity and higher morale.
- Telecommuting is sometimes more comfortable for introverted employees and cuts down on unnecessary communication, boosting productivity and morale.
- Telecommuting is proven to boost employee retention, likely due to the aforementioned boost in morale.
- Both employers and employees save money. Employers don't need to offer amenities, equipment and other expensive office requirements. Meanwhile, employees don't need to pay to commute.
5 cons of telecommuting:
As a former full-time employee of a media company with a somewhat flexible work arrangement, and now a full-time freelance writer with a completely flexible work arrangement — no office space, remote work and my own work schedule — I can tell you from firsthand experience that there are challenges to telecommuting. Here are a few.
- Employees must motivate themselves and hold themselves accountable for their work.
- Because employees make their own schedules, they might find themselves working around the clock and burning out.
- Employees might suffer from isolation as the result of working from home, solo.
- Working from coffee shops, cafes or co-working spaces can be an equal or greater expense for employees than commuting to the office.
- Vacations might become harder to take if employees struggle to set boundaries between work and play, leading to burn out and missed compensation.
What are the best telecommuting companies? The 11 highest-rated telecommute companies.
More and more companies are offering flexible working environments — including telecommute options. The highest rated telecommute companies on Fairygodboss are:
According to company reviews, up to 95% of employees at Deloitte telecommute at least part of the time and managers are trained to assist their employees in establishing a strong work-life balance.
IBM offers flexible working benefits and work-life integration programs to its employees.
Salesforce believes a big part of being a productive employee is establishing a healthy work-life balance. They work with employees to encourage a flexible workplace.
75% of Accenture's workforce takes advantage of their telecommuting options. However, the company also offers other flexible work arrangements like job-sharing and compressed hours.
5. Ultimate Software
40% of the workforce at Ultimate Software telecommute, and the company offers other benefits to encourage flexible schedules that allow employees to attend to their personal lives, including a generous parental leave.
Crowe offers a flexible and supportive work culture, and reports a majority of their employees work remotely on a regular basis. On top of those employees who work from home on Fridays, 10% of Crowe employees have a reduced schedule and/or formal off-site flexible work arrangements.
At Cisco, managers work with their reports to devise the perfect working scenario for their role and personal situations. Women at Cisco rate the company as incredibly supportive of all employees, telecommuters or not.
Microsoft offers a variety of flexible working arrangements, including telecommuting options. These arrangements aren't based on level at the organization, but are available to anyone whose roles allow for it.
9. Avanade, inc.
At Avanade, flexible work schedules are made available to employees through a variety of arrangements, including telecommuting. The company, with over 10,000 employees, is highly rated by women who work there as a flexible environment.
This highly-reviewed company offers telecommuting options along with other remote work options, like working remote occasionally and work hour adjustments.
11. Hitachi Vantara
Hitachi Vantara offers extremely flexible working arrangements including remote working, home office only and flexible hours or work weeks based on manager discretion.
Telecommuting in 2021
After the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many companies began allowing office employees to telecommute from home. Now, as COVID cases and deaths decline across the country and offices are beginning to reopen, the professional world has come to an impasse: Should office time be required, or should telecommuting continue. While certain industries like banking are requiring employees to return to the office full time, other industries are increasingly adopting telecommuting options — be it allowing employees to stay remote full time or to telecommute several days a week.
It's been shown that most Americans want to telecommute. In fact, 1 in 2 workers who are currently telecommuting say they will quit their job if they're asked to return to the office, according to a Prudential study that was published in Spring of 2021. This puts pressure on corporations to make telecommuting an accessible option for top talent. Telecommuting will likely only become more popular. Thankfully, we've broken down the pros and cons above, so you can make an educated decision on whether to telecommute or work from an office.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.