A topic obviously near and dear to my heart.  It’s an article in CIO magazine, which by definition kind of means it will be superficial (it’s the same magazine that produced the lightweight “Apple as the enterprise desktop” I linked to some weeks ago).

To make it worse, they do the usual “post only two paragraphs per web page so you have to visit more pages and get more ads” trick which annoys me to no end, so here’s the list of things you should know:

  1. Telecommuting Saves Money. Truly.
  2. Telecommuters Really Can Be More Productive
  3. Telecommuting Doesn’t Work for Every Individual
  4. Trust Your People
  5. Hone Management Skills for Telecommuting
  6. Keep the Telecommuter in the Loop
  7. Tools and Technology Make a Big Difference

It also has an interesting sidebar that asks questions about who should pay for the tools the telecommuter users.  Doesn’t give any answers, but it does mention the things that need to be considered.

I have my opinions about #7, specifically on who should pay for a 30″ Apple monitor that would fill a very empty space on my desktop.  Plus the 8-core Mac Pro that would be attached to it, of course.

Here are a few more that the CIO needs to know about:

  • Telecommuting doesn’t work for every job.  While the article mentions that it doesn’t work for every individual, it neglects the fact that there are some jobs for which telecommuting isn’t appropriate.  If the employee needs to be physically present to power systems on or off, that’s an obvious misfit, but there are also many jobs where most of the work has to do with relating to people directly (for organization, coordination or influence), and which may be poor candidates.
  • Telecommuting has significant benefits for the organization and the employee, but has drawbacks for the employee in job and promotion opportunities.  As I’ve said many times in the past: it’s a tradeoff.  But the employer should not fall into the trap of considering telecommuting as a “reward” that somehow is nothing but the opportunity for the employer to goof off.
  • There’s more travel involved than you’d think.  When I started telecommuting, we did some calculations about how often I would have to travel back to the office locations, and I believe we said something along the lines of “once every six weeks or so”.  There’s been far more travel than that, and potential full-time telecommuters need to understand that this is vital for them to remain on the agenda and in other people’s minds.
  • Don’t underestimate the benefit of a good desk and a comfortable chair: you’ll be using them more often than you would in the office (you never have to get up to go to a conference room, since you’ll take all conferences on your phone).  A good keyboard is also vital, but OSHA regulations tend to be downplayed or ignored.