What does telecommute mean?

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I was surprised to learn where the word “telecommute” came from originally and its connections to NASA. Thank goodness for NASA for giving us the word telecommute as well as our modern day water filtration systems. Yes – they invented water filtration, too!

But what does telecommute actually mean? We’ll explore the definition, origin of the word, pros and cons of telecommuting, and the types of jobs that are best for telecommuting.

Definition and Origin

Telecommuting is a style of work that is completed from home over the phone, Internet or email.

The term “telecommuting” was first mentioned in 1972 by Jack Nilles from NASA. He was doing remote work on a complex communication system. He told people he was “telecommuting”.

What are other words for telecommuting?

Telecommuting is also known as:

  • Working from home
  • E-commuting
  • Teleworking
  • Working remotely
  • Home based work
  • Freelancing

What are the pros and cons of telecommuting?

As the way we work and communicate changes over time, we find that telecommuting can be a rather appealing option for both employees and businesses.

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.

I would love to hear your experiences with telecommuting (whether from the employee or employer standpoint). Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think pros and cons are.

Pros for the employer:

It’s not just the employees who benefit from telecommuting. Employers enjoy some of the following benefits:

  • Reduction in overhead by not having to provide office space, and equipment.
  • Lower costs associated with relocation. Employers no longer have to relocate new hires.
  • Increased talent pool. Employers have more employees to choose from by increasing their boundaries.
  • Employees are often happier and more productive. They can start their days immediately and avoid commuting. Check out the 2-year Stanford study about that.
  • Employers are able to give employees a better work-life balance.

Pros for the employee:

As an employee in a connected and modernized workforce, you can experience many benefits such as those listed below:

  • Savings of time and money. Employees do not have to pay transportation costs involved with commuting.
  • Reduced stress from the commute.
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Broader work opportunities geographically. Employees are no longer confined to their geography.
  • Increased productivity. Employees can start their days immediately and achieve more than the commuting employee.

Cons for the employer:

There is give and take for almost everything. Take a look at some of the drawbacks employers have with allowing employees to telecommute:

  • Employees can no longer be monitored by employers to ensure focus and productivity.
  • Lack of cyber-security. Employees using personal devices for work may be more exposed than on a corporate network.
  • Lack of inclusion. Employees may be less included in group activities, meetings and office outings.

Cons for the employee:

Just like employers, employees also have challenges to deal with. Take a look at the drawbacks for the employee:

  • Loneliness. Isolated employees may feel less connected with others during work.
  • Work and home life boundaries become less clear.
  • Promoting work and accomplishments can be harder to showcase.
  • Loss of clarity and direction from leadership.
  • Distraction avoidance. Being isolated can cause distractions which can affect productivity.

What types of jobs are best for telecommuting?

More and more companies are offering telecommuting as an option for employees. The trend continues to grow in the U.S. with over 5% of the workforce participating in telecommuting.

The best types of jobs for telecommuting are jobs that require you to work as an individual contributor, or in some way independent. Also, jobs involving the use of the Internet and/or a telephone are typical jobs that allow telecommuting.

  • Accountant, bookkeeper
  • Administrative assistant
  • Animator
  • Auditor, financial analyst
  • Computer programmer, software engineer
  • Consultant
  • Copywriter
  • Data entry clerk
  • Data scientist
  • Database administrator
  • Digital marketer
  • Engineer
  • Graphic designer, illustrator, desktop publisher
  • Information security, cyber-security
  • Insurance agent
  • Marketing planner, media buyer
  • Medical transcriptionist, medical reviewer
  • Paralegal
  • Photographer
  • Public relations professional, speechwriter
  • Recruiter, human resources
  • Researcher, market research analyst
  • Sales rep, customer service rep, travel agent
  • Stockbroker
  • Telemarketer, telephone order taker
  • Translator
  • Webmaster, website designer
  • Writer, reporter, editor

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the many types of jobs that are good for telecommuting.

Conclusion

Again, thanks to NASA for many things including the word “telecommute”.

We learned that the definition of telecommute was a style of work that is completed from home over the phone, Internet or email as well as the different words used to also describe telecommute such as remote working and freelancing.

We reviewed various pros and cons of telecommuting from the employee and employer perspective as well as the types of jobs that are most conducive to telecommuting.

Do you telecommute? Leave a comment below and let me know what type of work you do as well as pros and cons I didn’t list above.

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