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Telecommuting Pros and Cons


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Presentation to the Society of Editors (WA) Winter Seminar, 16 August 2014

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Telecommuting Pros and Cons

  1. 1. TELECOMMUTING: Pros and cons Rhonda BraceySOEWA August 2014 #cybertext
  2. 2. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd “The virtual office has existed for at least a century... Clothing factories used to drop off piecework at the homes of stay-at-home mothers who would sew the pieces together and receive payment on a per-item basis. …it’s simple enough to give a worker a remote login to your network, a high-speed Internet connection, or whatever other connectivity service she requires.” Lee, TJ. The Virtual Office: Part 2
  3. 3. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd3 How many minutes of this per day? 10? 20? 30? 45? 60? More? “I’m sitting in a traffic jam, in the car that I need to get to work, so that I can pay for the house that I’m never in.”
  4. 4. How far/long is your daily commute? © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 4 RAC WA Horizons, June/July 2014, p9
  5. 5. Only to face this for 8+ hours… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 5
  6. 6. 6 Just 3 minutes walk away…
  7. 7.  Worked remotely full-time since Feb 2007  Several long-term clients in that time (WA, Qld, Tas, Israel, US)  Main client since late 2008: Chevron (Gorgon LNG Project)  Rarely, if ever, meet my clients/work colleagues  Mostly do technical editing for large teams of authors About me
  8. 8. Positives © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 8 No commute; no madly running errands on the way home; no ironing! More time for family, leisure activities More discretionary time Reduce or cut out: expensive lunches, snacks, drinks (coffee!); parking, public transport, fuel, car wear and tear; wardrobe updates, laundry, shoes/stockings, makeup/hair/nails Reduced costs (~$10,000 pa saved) No/fewer meetings; no water cooler chat; few ad hoc interruptions (prairie dogging); little office politics Greater productivity Few interruptions = meet deadlines; work hours to suit body clock/commitments; not rushing; fewer take-outs/meals out; more time for exercise; don’t catch/transmit bugs Less stress/ better health Not running car as often; not consuming as much Reduced footprint on Earth
  9. 9. But it’s not all roses…
  10. 10. Negatives © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 10 Miss ad hoc work and social relationships with co-workers; out of the loop; no body language/facial expression nuancesIsolation Possible increase in power/internet/phone costs; equipment/software costs if employer doesn’t provide; dedicated office space and furniture Increased costs Family/friends may assume you’re ‘always available’ to do other tasks (chores, shopping, kid taxi, coffee/lunch etc.) Interruptions Managers/co-workers may assume you’re doing nothing or doing things other than work Perceptions Can be too easy to work all hours and not separate home/work lifeOverworking Self-discipline is essential otherwise you’ll get nothing done; beware of distracting yourself with non-work tasksUnderworking
  11. 11. Self-distractions…. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 11
  12. 12. It’s about managing… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 12 Yourself and your time (discipline/routine) Perceptions of others (ALWAYS be available during core hours) Interruptions (train your spouse, family, friends) Your workspace (dedicated is best, with a door) Your mental and physical health (exercise regime, social contact) Your employer/manager (who pays for what; negotiate core hours)
  13. 13. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  14. 14. Helping hands: If you have these… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 14 Consider telecommuting (at least some of the time) Existing work/ network Existing reputation Supportive employer Supportive family Good self- discipline Appropriate environment
  15. 15. Who is telecommuting for?  Editors!  Any worker who DOESN’T need to:  interact face-to-face with others  use specialised equipment  work in a specialised location  NOT suitable: e.g. trades, retail, reception, hospitality © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 15
  16. 16. Work types conducive for telecommuting  Suitable work types: ANY! Occasional, temporary, PT, FT, permanent, consultant, contractor…  Suitable time periods: ANY! Full-time, few days a week, occasional, temporarily FT for a period… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 16
  17. 17. Temporary situations for telecommuting  Physical health issues: e.g.:  short-/long-term conditions (e.g. chronic fatigue, broken limb)  recovering from illness/hospital stay  temporary or permanent physical limitations  Mental health issues: e.g. anxiety disorders  Personal issues: e.g.:  death in the family  primary caregiver for an extended period but can work some of the time  need time to meet/consult others (e.g. dealing with financial issues, health issues, car issues, trades etc.) © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 17
  18. 18. Takeaways:  Internet essential—the faster the better  Remote access and collaboration tools are getting better all the time  Keep in contact—have regular voice meetings with manager/colleagues Connecting Technologies18 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  19. 19. Internet © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 19 MINIMUM: Broadband connection (>1.5 Mbps) Websites, email, social media Conference calls: phone and/or video Transfer/backup data files Connect securely to another system (VPN) Work on another system as though you were there (Windows Remote Desktop: free) Instant messaging (e.g. Microsoft Lync in corporate environment)
  20. 20. Telephony © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 20 Landline, mobile, VOIP (e.g. Skype, Cisco) Skype: • Computer to computer (free) • Smartphone app, conference calls, video calls, chat, voicemail, file transfer, screen sharing... Cisco IP Phone option if already used in office: • Office phone directory • Dedicated local number/extension
  21. 21. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  22. 22. Web conference/screen sharing tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 22 Provider Pricing (in US$, as at June 2014) Website WebEx Free (up to 3 people); $24/month (up to 8); $49/month (up to 25) GoToMeeting $49/month (up to 25); 30-day free trial Adobe Connect From $45/month; also ‘pay per use’ option: 32c/user/minute oducts/adobeconnect.html Microsoft Lync Online Various prices depending on Office 365 subs, corporate installations etc. en-us/office365/lync- online.aspx Join Me Free; Pro version from $13/month Fuze Meeting Free (up to 25); $8/month (up to 125) pricing A Google search for web conferencing applications gives >92 million results! Many apps are suitable for tablets too. Examples:
  23. 23. Remote access requirements © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 23 If you need to access:  your own system while on the road  a client’s system from anywhere then you’ll need this information…  Domain name, username, password  Client sys admin to allow VPN access  Tools to provide access, such as:  Remote Desktop (Windows; free!)  remote access to server and networked PCs via web  Microsoft Outlook Web Access (if using Exchange Server)  commercial desktop and web tools
  24. 24. Commercial remote access tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 24 Provider Pricing (US$, as at June 2014) Website GoToMyPC $10/month for access to one PC (30-day free trial) LogMeIn From $99/year (free trial) TeamViewer From $699/year Soonr From $30/month (3 users) Examples:
  25. 25. IT help © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 25  If no access to corporate IT help, consider ‘pay per use’ on-demand on-site or remote services  Some have pre-paid cover plans, managed IT services  Examples:  PC Guru (  Geeks2U (
  26. 26. Example collaboration tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 26 Document sharing tools (e.g. Google Drive, Office 365) File sharing tools (e.g. Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox) Project management tools (e.g. BaseCamp, ToodleDo) Microsoft SharePoint: Tries to do all the above in the one package; success varies… Other: Content management systems, wikis, forums, blogs, Twitter (!)
  27. 27. Twitter examples © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 27
  28. 28. Takeaways:  Essentials: dedicated space with a door  Get a GOOD chair Home Office28 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  29. 29. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd29
  30. 30. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd30
  31. 31. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd31
  32. 32. Minimum equipment © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 32 PC and/or laptop Modem/router (preferably with WiFi) Printer (multifunction for single footprint—copy, scan, print, fax) Headset (or microphone + speakers [often built-in to laptops]) External, portable hard drives/thumb drives Phone (smartphone is ‘one device to rule them all’)
  33. 33. Nice to have… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 33 Tablet (iPad etc.) WiFi connection (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet) Webcam (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet) Travel-sized bits and pieces (mouse, cables, WiFi dongles) Digital voice recorder (try your phone/tablet) Digital camera (or phone/tablet camera)
  34. 34. Stuff for your body © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 34 Decent desk + chair (you’ll spend a LOT of hours at both, so don’t scrimp) Quiet/free from distractions (noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs) Good lighting Temperature control Exercise
  35. 35. Just for video calls <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 35 Check background for inappropriate, messy, personal items (test!) (Is anything growing out of your head?; use fake background image or screen to cover mess) Ban pets, children, others from the room (lock the door, ‘On Air’ sign) Work in a silent room if possible (no background noises: screeching birds, barking dogs, vacuum cleaners, drills, microwave beeps, etc.) Mute any room noises (e.g. phones, alarms, computer notification pings) Watch for bright lighting (can distract, wash out, or make your face dark)
  36. 36. Just for video calls © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 36
  37. 37. Takeaways:  Costs of commuting are huge—time, money, mental health  ‘Employers of choice’ are those that offer flexible approaches to where/how you work Facts and figures37 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  38. 38. Some facts… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 38 UK companies spent £24 billion on business travel in 20111 It costs UK employers £7000 per person per desk for office workers1 90% of office workers would like to work from home some of the time1 35% of tech professionals would sacrifice up to 10% of their salaries for full-time telecommuting2 Microsoft dramatically reduced Australian office rent by encouraging employees to telecommute and ‘hot desk’3 1. From "Home of the future" Episode 2: Work (TwoFour Broadcast Ltd, 2012; presenter Chris Sanderson) 2. 3.
  39. 39. Results from studies on commuting… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 39 Lengthy, unpredictable commutes affect physical and emotional wellbeing1 Commuting strain  nervousness/tension, pain/stiffness, irritability, fatigue1 >10% of parents in paid employment spend more time each week commuting than with their children1 On the IBM Commuter Pain Index2 (1 to 100), Sydney is 40, Brisbane 34, Melbourne 32, Adelaide 22, Perth 19 (Beijing and Mexico City = 99) 31% surveyed3 said traffic was often so bad they turned around and went home (69% in Beijing!) 1. From Flood, Michael and Barbato, Claire (2005) Off to Work: Commuting in Australia, Australia Institute, Canberra. 2. IBM Commuter Pain Index (2011): 3. IBM Commuter Pain Index (2010):
  40. 40. Effects of commuting on mental health © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 40  Main article:  Swedish study: often.cid160978  Stutzer and Frey (German study):
  41. 41. Takeaways:  Search for ‘remote working’, teleworking’ ‘telecommuting’, ‘working from home’  Plenty available on benefits/costs of telecommuting and convincing arguments for your boss  List of some on my blog: resources-for-remote-working-presentation/ Resources41 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  42. 42. Just for fun…. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 42
  43. 43. Any questions? Contact me:  Email:  Website:  Blog:  Twitter: @cybertext  LinkedIn: Thank you…43 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd