For Telecommuters: Temperament, Self-Motivation and the Right Information are the Keys

With the right temperament, motivation and information telecommuting achieves significant benefits for employees and employers alike. However, not all jobs are well suited for telecommuting, and not everyone has the right temperament. And, even if the job is right, many people lack the information to go about telecommuting properly. These are among the lessons learned by a number of telecommuters across the country -- among them, Sharon Sahm, a computer analyst for a Fortune 100 company with worldwide operations. Ms. Sahm was recently profiled in the Dallas Morning News ("Personal Technology -- Workers Blaze Trails in Telecommuting," 7/26/2001)

A True Virtual Team
Ms. Sahm works out of her home in Sanger, Texas, which is 50 miles north of Dallas. The manager she reports to is also a telecommuter who works out of his home in North Carolina. They are part of a virtual department which includes other individuals who work from their home-based offices in Texas, Ohio, and other states.

Perks, Privileges -- and Challenges
"For me, the real perk is not having to get up and drive to work," says Ms. Sahm. However, the downside for her is not having others to bounce ideas off. "I do a lot of design work," says Sahm, "and it's good to have other creative people around."

Lessons Learned
Sahm's manager makes sure the team maintains contact with one another and with the company. Team members keep in touch with headquarters and with one another via e-mail, phone, and fax. They also travel to a company site on a regular basis for face-to-face meetings.

The key according to Sahm is to remember that effective telecommuting requires a special commitment from employees, managers and employers alike. Adds Sahm, "You really have to think it through and set up policies. It's not something that you can just do."

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