The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Telecommuting

Today, there are several types of telecommuting arrangements available for employees and contractors alike.

Though remote working can be an excellent way to boost productivity and lower stress, full-time remote working is not for everyone.

In fact, many employees prefer working on-site at least some of the time.

Below, we’ll look at a few different types of telecommuting arrangements, but before we do, let’s look at how telecommuting affects employees.

The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Telecommuting has plenty of advantages, which is why so many remote workers love telecommuting.

For instance, the advantages of telecommuting include:

At the same time, though, remote workers commonly report challenges such as:

  • Difficulty collaborating with team members
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Distractions at home

When asked, many remote workers love teleworking and would like to continue working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.

However, for many of the reasons just covered, not all employees want to telecommute full-time.

For that reason, it pays to look at the different types of telecommuting arrangements that are available in today’s job market.

Types of Telecommuting

The experience of telecommuting can vary depending on the employee, the job, the organization, and the type of telecommuting arrangement.

Here are a few different examples of telecommuting arrangements, each of which will impact the teleworking experience in a different way:

Telecommuting as an Employee

Telecommuting is when employees works for a company from a remote location, communicating with teams, coworkers, and clients via telephone and the internet.

Historically, employees have largely worked from company offices, for a variety of reasons, one of which is technology. Technology constraints made it difficult to work remotely, but all of that has changed in recent years.

Employees that work for organizations that support telecommuting have access to a slew of advantages:

  • The privacy and benefits of working from home
  • The security of an employment contract
  • An organization and a team with shared values and a shared mission
  • The ability to work remotely, at least part of the time

In many ways, this flexibility is one of the biggest reasons to seek employment contracts rather than freelance work.

Employees who want to feel the comradery and socialization that comes with teamwork may benefit from choosing full-time employment with an organization.

Telecommuting as a Contractor

Independent contractors also frequently work remotely, though this can also be combined with on-site work.

For those who prefer more independence, this is a good option.

After all, contractors:

  • Will be less tied to a single organization
  • Often spend less time working on-site
  • Usually have more freedom in terms of location and scheduling

Employees who don’t mind independence and solitude may prefer work as a freelance contractor.

However, since independent contractors often spend more time working alone, this may be less suitable for those who want to feel the solidarity and comradery associated with teamwork.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Telecommuting

Another question that telecommuters must answer is how much time they should spend working remotely.

Full-time remote working, as mentioned, affords more solitude, flexibility, and geographical independence.

However, it comes at the expense of socialization and the benefits that come with colocation.

All of these have been covered already.

For instance:

  • Full-time remote workers will have a more difficult time feeling like they are “part of the team”
  • Social isolation becomes more pronounced the more often employees work remotely
  • Telecommuting increases personal freedoms and flexibility, as well as productivity for those who are more self-reliant

In short, telecommuting is both a blessing and a curse. 

The choice of telecommuting arrangement should depend on many factors, not the least of which is one’s own personal tastes.

How to Choose Which Type of Telecommuting Works Best for You

How should employees choose which telecommuting arrangement is most suitable?

Here are a few areas to consider:

  • Past experience. There is a good chance that employees already have some experience working remotely. And if they don’t, they can evaluate experiences that are relevant to telecommuting, such as experience working in isolation or collaborating digitally.
  • Digital skills. One’s own digital skills will also impact productivity and efficiency when telecommuting. The more digitally literate and skilled one is, the easier it will be to work remotely. If one lacks basic digital skills, however, telecommuting can itself become more frustrating and difficult.
  • The tolerance for solitude. Solitude is one common feature associated with teleworking, which is why so many remote workers choose to work from coworking spaces. Though coworking spaces can be helpful for combating loneliness and isolation, they still don’t offer the same level of solidarity and comradery that one can feel at one’s own workplace. 

Perhaps the best way to choose is through trial and error, based on one’s own experience and knowledge.

With an experimental approach and continual modification, employees can easily discover a telecommuting arrangement that works for them.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.