Does Telecommuting Kill Your Career?

Network World has an article about how telecommuting might kill your career. 1,320 executives from all over the world were surveyed and 60% of them said that they felt telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers as company executives want face time with their employees.

As someone who has telecommuted full time for almost a decade, I can say that my career has probably been “stunted” as a result of telecommuting. There are certain opportunities I missed out on or were simply not available to me as a result of not being in the office full time. I have also missed out on a lot of distractions as a result, such as office politics.

There is this “myth” that one has to “advance” in their career. What does that mean, really? For a lot of people, it means moving from an individual contributor to a manager and then on up the the management chain. Telecommuting does make it more difficult to jump into management. Unless, of course, you are managing remote people, which is even more difficult than managing local people.

There are plenty of reasons one might want to telecommute. All of the reasons ultimately boil down to wanting to improve work-life balance. Advancing your carrer seems to go against the grain of improving work-life balance. That isn’t to say you can’t advance as a telecommuter, but it does present an additional barrier to overcome.

For me, personally, what matters isn’t the upward mobility, but the lateral mobility, i.e. the ability to change tasks. It’s not about really about “advancing,” it’s about continuing to do something I am excited about doing. Whether I am low man on the totem pole or the CEO, I really don’t care as long as I enjoy my job and I make enough money to pay the bills.

Do you telecommute? How has telecommuting affected your career, good or bad? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


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