3 Ways to Get More Flexibility at Work

The Best Ways to Give Your Work/Life Balance a Boost

2. Telecommuting

Telecommuting involves working from somewhere other than the traditional workplace. Most often, this means working from home using computers, smartphones and internet connections. Some companies are completely distributed, with employees rarely working in the same physical location. Other employers prefer the use of part-time telecommuting, in which one-quarter to one-third of an employee’s work hours can be performed at home. Others rely on telecommuting in ad-hoc situations, such as when a key employee must be home for family reasons or in the aftermath of severe weather that makes coming into work hazardous.

The obvious benefits of telecommuting for employees include the reduction/elimination of commutes, increased work autonomy, and the increased ability to integrate work and family demands on customized schedule.

Many employers also see telecommuting as advantageous. Telecommuting allows companies to manage distributed teams and attract talent from beyond the local labor market, reduces office space requirements, and allows them to retain talent who may need telecommuting solutions for their work-family demands.

On the other hand, many employers are leery of telecommuting because they fear that employees may abuse the privilege and slack off; that a lack of coworker interaction may harm cohesiveness, the generation of new ideas and collective performance; and that they will lose the ability to evaluate and manage employee performance without "facetime."

In fact, many of these fears are unfounded, depending on the nature of the job, employee and customer needs. However, because of these fears, it may be difficult to negotiate for anything more than part-time or ad-hoc telecommuting options.