Challenging Telework Myths

We’ve looked at some of the common myths about home-based web work in the past – the ones about us all being naked, or getting lonely. But there’s another set of myths that is even more pernicious: the ones that can kill your career.

But there’s no reason to put up with this state of affairs. Whether you’re already telecommuting, trying to launch a new telework program, or attempting to protect a remote worker budget for your department, there are ways to challenge these myths. Here are our counter-arguments to some of the ones we’ve heard.

Myth: People work harder in the office where they’re supervised than at home where they can slack off.
Reality: People in the office get paid for every hour they’re physically present, whether they’re working, surfing the web, or polishing their nails. People working from home only get paid for actual productive work hours.

Myth: It costs too much to set up computer equipment for teleworkers.
Reality: Teleworkers need a computer and a network connection. Office-based workers need office space (at rates per square foot that are going up all the time), furniture, office supplies, free sodas, parking spaces…

Myth: Telecommuting represents an unacceptable security risk.
Reality: This is a solved problem. Standard-issue computers, remote management, and strong authentication products can all help keep telecommuters as safe as office workers. IT may have to learn some new tricks, but that’s what you pay them for.

Myth: Teleworkers are never available when you need them.
Reality: Teleworkers have just as much stake in being connected with the rest of the team as everyone else – maybe more, in fact. Between email, phones, instant messages, VOIP, videoconferencing, and a plethora of Web 2.0 services, teleworkers these days can be as connected as the people in the cubicle down the hall.

Myth: Telecommuting is for other businesses.
Reality: Maybe so, but that’s becoming less common all the time. Sure, if your employees all run drill presses full time they’re not good candidates for telework, but if they have as little as 8 hours a week of portable desk work they can fit into a part-time program – with benefits for both employer and employee.

Myth: You’ll never see the teleworkers again.
Reality: When geography allows, many teleworkers spend the occasional day in the office, ranging from once a week to once a month. This allows attending a few meetings as well as critical social bonding time. Teleworkers want to be part of the team just as much as everyone else.

What other telework myths have you run into? Share your answers to help your peers break down the prejudices against our way of work!

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