The Perils of Telecommuting

CNET has an article on the hidden costs of going virtual. They focus on the impact that being remote has in the social context. As someone who has telecommuted for 3 months now, and who was laid off after 8 months the last time, it is hard to shake the feeling that the boys in the home office have it in for you. I suspect this is strictly a function of how poisonous the office politics are back in HQ. One of the things employers worry about remote employees is how they can trust that they are doing their work. Employees have worries of their own, like how can I tell you aren’t plotting to get rid of me or stacking the deck against me?

Something I think exists but is not covered here is the hidden benefit of remote employees. If a workplace commits to having remote employees and gets the necessary tools and infrastructure in place, there is an organizational gain. Things must be documented and go through the collaboration tools, increasing organization and information efficiency. You can forget exactly how much of the information transfer in an organization occurs from offhand remarks at lunch and other ways that will never be captured in a permanent form. Forcing everyone to use the tools is a gain, I think.