Are you a teleworker?
If you carry out your office work at a location away from the main office, either at your home, satellite offices or other remote locations one or more days per week using communication tools such as such as laptop, phone, fax, modem, Internet teleconferencing, e-mail or text messaging, you are so called a teleworker.
Working no longer means that you have to be in the office, having discussion and attend meeting on typical work schedule, the usual eight hours a day, five days a week. Today, due to changing nature of work, individually tailored schedule has become a favourable trend for employees that enable them to work anytime and anywhere. This is what teleworking is all about.
The concept has emerged many years back but in Malaysia mostly applied by multinational company. I believe that teleworking is not very familiar term for most of Malaysian employer and employees, where working simply means that you really have to be in the office. To clearly differentiate, if you are working away from your office for a few days, then you are actually working outstation and not teleworking.
Definition of teleworking according to teleworkva.redmon.com is a work arrangement where management permits employees to perform their usual job duties away from their central worksite, in accordance with their same performance expectations and other agreed-upon terms. In addition, teleworking also being applied to employees that needs to be constantly on the move to get their jobs done, like salespersons and reporters.
The emergence of internet technologies has made it possible to carry out a wide range of work at a distance from the main office. Thanks to constantly evolving information technologies, interactions and relationships between company and employees, and co-workers have been going virtual and at the speed of light. Information and software based applications allows online delivery through wireless connectivity, e-mail, text messaging and videoconferencing, which are replacing traditional landlines, phone systems, and the need to travel for either work or meetings. While telework technology may differ from one company to another, basic tools require for telework basically remain the same such as computers/laptops, associated peripheral equipment (e.g., printer, copier, scanner, facsimile), phone, Internet connectivity, secure network access (e.g., Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)) and technical support.
Technology is paving the way for greater telework adoption. Many companies are already using tools such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Web-based collaboration solutions, as well as visual collaboration solutions to enhance work environments and bring distributed teams closer together. On top of that, use of tablet and smartphones with available applications has tremendously increase mobility for teleworkers. For example, if you have the applications like Google Apps Sync, you can seamlessly syncs mail, calendar events, contacts, notes, and tasks between your Google profile in Outlook and your Google Apps account in the cloud. This will allow teleworker to access the same information at any time, from any devices where they use these apps. Some companies also allow their employees to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat as their communication platform, an informal yet effective way to communicate.
Teleworking brings new challenges as well as benefits, and a variety of studies have examined the impact of teleworking in terms of benefits to employees that results in job satisfaction. Imagine the benefit of being a telewoker as follows:
- More control on schedule – As teleworkers, you will get more flexible schedules and able to manage your own things and time, and will result in better stress control. And most important, you will have higher energy levels due to cut out the odious daily commute and traffic jam.
Work-life balance – women especially will have precious time with their family and taking care of their children affairs. Be with the family most of the time will render higher quality of life.
Cost saving – You can save cost for commuting and don’t have to spend much on the attire especially for those working from home.
Higher productivity – teleworking helps to increase your productivity as your are not susceptible to distractions such as office politics and gossips.
While for companies, advantages of teleworking are aso manifest;
- Reduce absenteeism – teleworking allows employees to better combine their work and personal responsibilities. This results in a reduction in absenteeism as employees have less tendency to take personal leave, sick leave or leave work early to meet personal needs.
- Savings in cost of office space and operational cost – teleworking enables companies to save on office space and associated costs. As a result, company can have extra money to spend more on advertising, research and marketing which are more efficient cost.
- Greater diversity of talent – teleworking give option to company to hire employees of wider geographical area thus increase talent pool and strengthen the workforce.
- Telework is a suitable employment option for employees with disability as they don’t have to commute.
However, several factors cited as drawbacks in adopting teleworks:-
- Inability to constantly monitor – a major challenge for companies that they are not able to physically observe their employees’ performance. This may pose a concern especially for jobs where the employees’ performance is not easily measurable.
- Reduced social networking – teleworking may negatively affect social networking in the workplace by disrupting teamwork, fragmenting the social network and creating possible resentment among employees not chosen to telework.
- Lack of resource and technical support – teleworkers face the challenge of gaining access to resources (documents, database) which they may need in performing their work but which may not be available on-line. In addition, teleworkers need to be more technically savvy then their office peers as support services may not be readily available at remote locations.
- Exposure of remote PC on Internet – some remote desktop apps are vulnerable to threat, thus increase the risk of the PC and the information it contained being stolen or exposed.
Unlike US, Canada, Australia and some Europe countries, teleworking in Malaysia especially in Government sector are still quite gloomy. According to the 2012 Labour Force Survey Report issued by the Malaysian Statistics Department, women outnumber men in the professional employees’ category. The category listed 686,600 persons or 55% of women in contrast to 559,800 persons or 45% of men. Obviously, teleworking in Malaysia will promote better work-life-balance and increase job satisfaction especially amongst women employees. As Malaysia look forward to achieve its vision 2020, this is indeed new working concept that government should embrace as an alternative to conventional working environment.