11 Comments

Summary:

There are many things that make web working sound like a dream come true – flexible hours, lower transportation costs, and the ability to work anywhere we want. However, as web workers we know that there are things that make our work more challenging. If at […]

There are many things that make web working sound like a dream come true – flexible hours, lower transportation costs, and the ability to work anywhere we want. However, as web workers we know that there are things that make our work more challenging. If at least 40% of the American workforce have jobs that can be done from home, what exactly prevents them all from becoming teleworkers?

Worker evaluation based on time and presence. For most knowledge workers, their workplace still tends to be time and presence oriented, rather than results oriented. This means that employees are required – or simply preferred, whether intentionally or not – to show up at the office even if they don’t necessarily have to.

Even the employees themselves are aware of this, and 62% employees in one survey actually believe that their respective companies prefer that they physically show up for work.

Lack of lay understanding. Not everyone understands teleworking, and some people don’t even recognize it as “real work”, whatever that means. It’s a small hindrance, but it has its consequences – especially if those who misunderstand teleworking are your colleagues and clients. There are several myths surrounding teleworkers, often making them sound as if they were lazy, require a lot of ‘babysitting’ from supervisors, or are less loyal to the company. If the people you work with believe these myths, even slightly, their perception of you and your work changes. The sad thing is that in business, perception is important – no matter how flawed or misinformed the onlooker’s perspective may be.

Few mass-market telepresence products. While email and instant messaging serve their purpose, we can communicate even better with our clients and companies if affordable, high quality teleconferencing products were the norm. Affordability is important, otherwise corporations would be more hesitant to allow employees to telework if doing so would cost more. With reliable teleconferencing systems, we can still be teleworkers without losing “face time” with supervisors, colleagues, and other business contacts – perhaps allowing teleworking to appeal even to those who crave the social nature of traditional offices.

Data security needs improvement. Although organizations are now being open-minded about web working, there are still several things that are being overlooked, especially when it comes to data security, according to a recent survey:

“Another surprising finding in the survey was the lack of formal policies, operational procedures or training in place to educate their employees about the risk of data loss or to prevent or mitigate the risk of breaches of privacy or security regarding personal information.”
Source: “Risk at Home: Privacy and Security Risks in Telecommuting” from the Center for Democracy and Technology

As the survey shows, apart from the equipment itself, company standards, department accountability, and data security training would make web working a safer option for both the employee and the company. The fewer security vulnerabilities occur, the safer everyone will feel about the option to telework.

These obstacles might make web working more difficult, but with its increasing popularity comes the development of best practices, revisions of company policies, and the rise of innovative products. The numbers seem to be on our side, so we only have a few years to wait before this list of difficulties will be crossed out – and replaced with new ones.

What difficulties do you face as a web worker? How and when do you think you can overcome these difficulties?

By Celine Roque

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Related stories

  1. Hi!

    The main difficulty I face, when thinking about freelancing or contracting from home/on-the-road, is that often I am expected to have all the resources myself, and to support all the costs. In this high-dance/often low-work environment, the funds aren’t there for me for high-cost wifi or broadband, these various tools, long distance, the all-in-one PDA or phone, etc.

    I tend to be one of those who prefers working on-site because I’d rather work with the client’s systems, and my web mobility comes from having my own tools and resources that can move from project to project.

    Share
  2. Hi,

    One of difficulties is the crossing of the (thin)line of private and work. People are expecting you to be online all the time and even in the private hours of the day. It has always been hard for me to guard that line for myself but its getting more difficult if other people is expecting it as well!!

    Another issue is that i use to like the 20 to 30 minutes drive back home. It gave me time to unwind and to get into my private mode.

    Don’t get me wrong, i don’t want to get back to the ‘old’ days, i really like working like this. It’s great because we not only work as web workers but also with a lot of externals from India, Oekraine, in the Netherlands self. It would be a bit costly to come together all the time ;-)

    Share
  3. From the employer’s perspective, there are many legal issues of concern. The employment contract may need amending. The ‘place of work’ may need inspecting for health and safety and suitability to work because occupational injuries etc sustained on work time may be a liability for the employer. Because of the reasons you cite, the employer may also be open to discrimination lawsuits. And of course, to draw the line between tele-working and flexible working (yes, I am in the UK; we are the champions of absurdia!) will be quite a challenge too. And the chagrin of other employees whose jobs cannot be done away from the office (e.g. phone receptionist’s for instance).

    Share
  4. It’s often hard to avoid distractions and comforts of home. However, you can usually avoid them if you have a nice private room (like I do) for working. People also tend to think, “oh, he’s at home, he can do this and this and this for me because he’s not doing anything”, but I’m working! I have work to do, and a lot to get done, and I don’t think everyone around me understands that. Distractions.

    Jake
    NoteScribe: Premier Notes Software

    Share
  5. Ajay Bandopadhyay Friday, August 22, 2008

    For the last fifteen months or so, I have been trying to generate some freelance home based business. I have made some investment in infrastructure such as Computer & software, high speed internet etc. However, I have not acheived any remarkable success other than my popularity on internet; this is because of my strong presence I guess. I normally get 10 to 20 mails on each of the five working days and all these senders of E-mails inspire me to join their teams; they all assure me of a great future and big money. Most of these friends are from America or Europe; and recently a couple of Indian friends have started sending me lucrative propsals of the same kind. I am enroled with both the USA and EU frelance protals in addition to a few more of the same kind and the famous CJ.

    One thing is common with every such mail I receive – they all seek some investment. Is this the crux of this business process?

    Share
  6. [...] us to prep ourselves for the day ahead, go around the neighborhood, and do some idle thinking. In my previous post, WWD reader Michael said that he liked the commute home, because it gave him the chance to [...]

    Share
  7. [...] Web Worker Daily: What makes web working more difficult? [...]

    Share
  8. From these comments I see one difficulty effecting web workers: they seem to think that the alternative to an expensive desk position in an office should be free!

    Yes, we have overheads: a few thousand dollars of hardware, software, VoIP call costs and of course paying for internet connectivity wherever we are. BUT this is a price worth paying! Offer any of your desk-locked colleagues if they would swap a small chunk of their income for the chance to live and work as we do, I bet they’ll bite your arm off.

    The problem here as I see it is a romantisized falicy about teleworking – yes it can be very cheap or even ‘free’ if you work hard to get there, but it’s better to be realistic and budget and don’t be afraid to pay when you need to. Speculate to accumulate! That phone call may have cost you five bucks, but the value your client got will be repaid because you were available when they needed you, even though you were sitting in a café in the Carribean ;o)

    Share
  9. [...] to make, especially if you’re coming from a traditional office environment. With all the obstacles in the way of successful web working, it’s almost puzzling why it’s a growing trend. [...]

    Share
  10. [...] and the Untethered Employee Is Your Workplace Results Oriented or Time Oriented? What makes web working more difficult? 6 Answers About Telecommuting Why Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Telework Trends in Teleworking [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post