You go to a search engine and type the word telecommuting and you will find various sources with definition of the term. One source offers a straightforward description of “work from home, making use of the Internet, e-mail and the telephone.” Another source describes it as a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store.
Majority of us at work have to leave home five times a week and spend at least eight hours a day in a workplace, whether it is a business office, commercial store, government agency, school, and other physical setup. It is just how work is as we know it — people who belong to a company or organization who share physical office to get the job done spend their day traveling to and from work.
This concept of telecommuting is a young one that traces its beginnings in the 1970s in the US. A source cited that in the US alone, there are more than “3.9 million employees who make up 2.9% of the total workforce work from home at least half of the time. There has been a 115% increase in telecommuting between 2005 to 2015 (up from 1.8 million in 2005).”
What makes telecommuting attractive? This particular practice affords workers flexible work option that contributes to the worker’s morale and productivity. Studies have shown that “people are happier and healthier when they have some control over their work lives.” Work flexibility also reduces burnout and stress among workers.
Needless to say, telecommuting is eco-friendly since workers do not need to burn fuel to go to work either as car drivers or vehicle passengers. It is also said to be more cost-effective in terms of time, money spent on transport and food and other travel-related expenses on the part of the workers. On the part of the office, they can save from office rental and all the attendant expenses in providing workspace to employees. It also allows employers to work with talent regardless of location.
But then, not all kinds of work are suitable to telecommuting. “Many client-facing jobs, for example, require employees to be in the office for meetings; some sales jobs require a more personal level of communication and some more manual jobs require equipment that employees just don’t have at home.”
Since you do not have a physical workplace, you have to motivate yourself to work and not slacken with your output. You may also be facing the prospect of working round the clock since you can be accessed on demand by the office.
Regardless, telecommuting has found champions and adherents since the advent of technology and the realization of providing work-life harmony and creative opportunities for workers to be given flexibility in how they do work, are important things to be managed and addressed in the workplace.
Here in our country, there is already a House Bill 7402 (the Telecommuting Act) and Senate Bill 1363 (the Telecommuting Act of 2017) which both aim to “enhance the protection and promotion of (the rights and welfare of) workers engaged in telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements.” The DoLE is tasked to come up with a pilot program to test its implementation before full adoption in the country.
Aside from the benefits cited, for many in the metropolis besieged by traffic commuting daily to and from work, this development is like a whiff of fresh opportunity to continue to engage in productive work without being hampered by the stress and aggravation that commuting entails.
Dennis L. Berino is an associate professorial lecturer of the Decision Sciences and Innovation Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University.