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Telecommuting makes it possible for colleagues and clients to work from a remote location as well as to speed up workflow and communication in the office. It offers economic benefits, since you save money on parking, transportation, clothing and sometimes childcare. It also may give you flexibility on your work hours and your work setting. Despite these benefits, telecommuting has several significant disadvantages to consider before committing to working away from the office.
Separating Work and Home
It's not difficult to fall into the trap of overworking yourself. If you work from home rather than a coffee shop or library, you may find yourself checking emails, working on projects or simply thinking about work well into your "off" time. It may also be difficult to define concrete work hours and avoid distractions at home. Family members or social interruptions may distract you, or you may be tempted to take care of chores and errands around the home, putting off your work until later.
When you telecommute, you get the freedom of less supervision. However, you also may become socially isolated. While some workers thrive on being able to work alone, you may not feel part of a professional community or miss the face-to-face interaction you get in a traditional office setting. Connect with other telecommuters to avoid isolation. If you're a freelancer, seek out forums, websites and blogs of others in your situation or utilize clients' resources to communicate with others in your industry.
Inadequate Work Environment
When you work in an office, most of the setup is done for you because you're already in an office or cubicle. At home, it's up to you to create an efficient environment specifically for work. It needs to be well-equipped and suit your work needs. Arrange for sufficient Internet connectivity, offering bandwith that adequately handles uploads and video streaming. Install a phone line for faxes and purchase equipment like a fax machine, copier or phone system if needed. If you transcribe or have call center duties, you also need job-specific equipment like a transcription pedal or digital calling software. Your employer may provide this to you, but if you're a freelancer, this may not be the case.
If you telecommute in an office where most other employees do not, your company may not have an adequate infrastructure and communication system to keep you abreast. You may not receive interoffice mail in a timely manner, for instance. Conference calls also present problems when poorly managed. Colleagues who aren't aware of call etiquette may speak over one another or forget to mute their phones to eliminate background noise. Ask your employer or client what infrastructure they have in place to assure proper communication.