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What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting takes the employee out of an office and provides her with the opportunity to do the work from home. Also known as eCommuting or eWorking, the criteria for telecommuting vary from company to company. This work arrangement offers an interesting halfway point between being an employee and working from home, like a self employed entrepreneur might do.
In fact, for some workers it is the first introduction to working at home and may provide them with the inspiration to either pursue an entrepreneurial dream later on or nix the idea altogether, simply because they are not cut out for the this kind of working environment.
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Importance of Defined Criteria for Telecommuting Jobs
Failure to put such criteria into print results in accusations of favoritism, especially when some employees believe that they were intentionally overlooked when the opportunities for at-home work first arose. Of course, printed standards that become part of the company handbook also help interested employees to set up a home office that is suitable for doing the available telecommuting jobs. In this way, the conditions help the worker to get the most out of her employment experience with a company that offers telecommuting.
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Eligibility for telecommuting work varies, depending on the industry and also the needs of a particular office. Some criteria are the same that would guide a hiring manager to choose one applicant over another. For instance, Robert Moskowitz from the American Telecommuting Association(1) is quoted as identifying self discipline, an ability to focus on a goal and also loyalty to the company as the kinds of soft skills that would make a worker eligible for consideration.
Since managers must avoid even the appearance of favoritism, it is imperative that measurable performance markers accompany these soft skills. Favorable performance reviews, a well-documented record of meeting or exceeding stated goals and overall a personnel record that reflects the values of a loyal worker do enable managers to identify the most likely candidates to succeed in telecommuting jobs.
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Home Office Setup for Telecommuting
Telecommuting jobs are only a good option if the employee has the at-home facilities to do the work. A good example of this kind of rule setting is the University of Texas(2), which stipulates that its telecommuting employees must work from a work site where there are no interruptions.
In fact, part and parcel of the school’s telecommuting agreement is a clause that requires attachment of the home office floor plan, which outlines the electrical outlets, the available equipment and also the furniture. In this instance, the employer also makes it very clear that it will not provide a workstation and that it is up to the employee to fully set up the office.
As a general rule of thumb, the right home office setup includes:
- Telephone with answering service or machine
- Computer and printer
- Suite of office productivity programs, such as Microsoft Office
- Internet access
- Fax machine
Meet these basic criteria for telecommuting -- and also prepare for some basic telecommuting interview questions that might come up -- and the odds are good that you will qualify for one of these coveted positions.