Telecommuting Works

If you can’t make telecommuting work, blame it on the manager.

I believe that a good manager can develop measurable objectives with employees. I believe it is a weak manager who is afraid of allowing employees to work from home because they cannot watch them for productivity. I believe that if a job can be accomplished outside of the traditional office walls, or outside of the traditional office hours, an employee should be able to execute tasks to reach their objectives, at the place or at the times they choose.

I have proven this in my own company.

My company is located in Dallas/Fort Worth – a BIG metroplex.  I have employees that are brilliant at what they do who would have to commute over an hour if they came into the office. So they don’t. At least not very often. 80% of Aquire staff telecommute at least one day a week and 30% make it into the office no more often than once a week. There is great camaraderie, fantastic productivity and HUGE employee engagement among our employees. Employees use instant messenger, email, collaborative work-spaces, phone calls and meetings to connect. They know each other well. We break bread together at company lunches at least monthly.

It is amazing to me how a company will accept a sales rep living in their territory not coming into the office each day but other workers are tethered to their desk.  There are many things wrong with that picture. Trust your employees, give them measurable objectives and let them do their thing. I know not every job is built in a way that can allow for telecommuting, however, far more jobs could thrive with a little more flexibility.

I believe that family and sanity are critical to a healthy work life.  This is not just a woman’s issue, this is a planet issue. Families need to know each other. Kids need a parent at the day time chorus event. Aging parents need help understanding the doctor’s words. You need to get your teeth fixed without waiting for the only Saturday appointment available (in six months). So get your job done.  Be where your life needs you to be and communicate with your boss and your employees to make it successful.

Oh by the way, between conference calls – make sure you move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  The cub scout shirt is needed tonight !


Photocredit iStockPhoto

About the Author

Lois Melbourne

Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children's books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.


Lois Melbourne

You are right. There are so many elements of the study of leadership when you look at telecommuting and remote workers. Good leaders can make it an incredible experience for the employees and the company. Weak leaders can really screw things up. I look forward to seeing your post and more of your thoughts on the topic.

Debbie Brown

Lois, I just read that article you posted- twice, and I think it is going to inspire me to write a blog post. It sheds light on so many things and there are no leadership courses that I have been in that have addressed these things and yet they get in the way of day to day communication and decisions affecting people and how they are perceived. That article was eye opening, and sad to me that I see so many examples of the disconnect in understanding-

Lois Melbourne

Working Girl: You are a pioneer! You are also right about it being difficult to be solo. Keep your voice heard regarding your needs. If it is constructive, people will hopefully listen and help adopt. I find many want to make telecommuting work, so that they will get a chance to do it. Enlist those champions to help you work out the kinks.

Diane: Pet hair on the key board is defintely a draw back and I don’t want video cameras on my laptop.

Diane Prince Johnston

Thanks for your blog post that I am enjoying while working from home!

I think that every situation and personality is unique and for some telecommuting is right and for some is not and you are right that “flexibility is key.”

Got my laundry in now however the dog is driving me crazy! 🙂

working girl

I telecommute from another country and it’s a struggle to make it work. It’s hard for people to include people who aren’t right there. It’s definitely easier in virtual teams where everyone is remote instead of just a few people.

I think of myself as a pioneer – on good days. 🙂

Lois Melbourne

I agree Benjamin, I would not do it every day either. But I love the change of location and environment that allows different thinking and blocks of time for concentration.

Jennifer, it makes me wonder if management schools are spending enough time training how to set goals and major progress. I think there is a lot more need in management and leadership training to include project and goal management. Maybe this would help us progress.


Jennifer V. Miller


It amazes me that we are *still* wrestling with the “if I can’t see them, they must not be doing their work” mind set.

Because, really, with most companies having very clear productivity metrics, it’s very easy to see who is or is not getting their work done. I agree that it’s just a control issue.


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