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According to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll, one in five workers worldwide telecommute. A lot of people still have misconceptions about the telecommuting "work-style."
It's not a surprise to me that so many people are working at home. In my family, three out of four family members work at home at least part of the week. What's surprising to me is that telecommuting is not as popular in Hungary, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Italy where less than 10 percent opt to work from home. More than half the workers in India work at home. Meanwhile, 34 percent of the people in Indonesia and 30 percent of the people in Mexico work out of the home.
It's interesting because advances in technology have made it easier to work at home. Most of the Western countries have that technology so why aren't they using it? I think some people are confused by myths related to working at home.
Telecommuting is socially isolating
About 62 percent of the people polled said they thought telecommuting could be socially isolating. I guess I never viewed work as a "social outlet." I still have face-to-face contact with clients when I leave my home office. To me, telecommuting helps facilitate a more focused work environment with no distractions.
Telecommuting causes family conflict
Fifty-three percent of the people polled said they thought telecommuting could increase family conflict. I worked at home after my children were born. They still remember going with me to cover articles for the Post-Tribune newspaper in Indiana. I never felt they were in my way. And, they got to spend time with me. Now my husband and I both work at home part of the week, sharing ideas and helping one another break through any creative blocks.
Working at home hurts a chance at promotion
Some people worry they will hurt their chance for a promotion if they are working at home. I think as more people work at home, managers will learn better how to manage a mobile workforce. Several of my former colleagues manage full-time employees who are office-less. They often meet at Panera Bread for meetings. I think people hurt their chances for promotion more by spending too much time gossiping around the office water cooler.
Telecommuters are less productive
I know I personally am more productive working at home where I can control distractions. I think people who are self-motivated tend to do well with a less restrictive work environment. Most people are universally motivated by recognition, money or praise. All of those motivators can be incorporated into the work-at-home workday.
Many of my friends and colleagues have been laid off in the last several years. Some of them have picked up freelance work which can be done from home. I think the high unemployment rate will push more people toward the work-at-home world. And, they might look back at their layoff as the best thing that ever happened to them.