working from home

Tax Time for Telecommuters

snoopy-irs-cartoon

A few last-minute things to keep in mind

Though perhaps you are reading this in lieu of actually DOING your taxes, if you are a telecommuter these tips just might help. With the tax deadline looming, here are a few things to keep in mind and some deductions you may not know about:

1.  Home Office Deduction

2e0b5dd04e985fb995cce05092e64df2The IRS allows you to take deductions for your home office — whether you are a freelancer OR an employee.

You don’t necessarily need a dedicated room as long as you have a consistent, delineated area that is the SOLE place you do your work; it must not be used for any other purpose.

If your work requires you to go out and meet with clients, for example, and you spend much of your time out of the office, you can still claim a home office deduction as long as you perform administrative tasks there regularly.

In recent years, the IRS has allowed for a simplified home office deduction: $5 per square foot up to 300 square feet or $1,500. Otherwise, you must calculate what percentage of your home’s overall space is taken up by your office to determine your deduction. Office related expenses can also be deducted: office supplies, the relevant percentage of utilities such as phone, internet, and heating.

2.  Travel Expenses

Auto and public transportation expenses can both be deducted but only when traveling between one workplace and another–this does not include your typical commuting costs from home to work. It is important to keep meticulous records. However, if you haven’t been keeping track faithfully you can also take a percent deduction based on how much of your travel expenses are business related.

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3.  The 2% Floor

Home office and other business expenses are only deductible if they are above 2% of your adjusted gross income. If your total business expenses add up to less than that you are ineligible for deductions. The IRS defines allowable deductions as things “ordinary and necessary,” such as dues to a professional organization  or relevant magazine subscriptions.

 

 

4. State-to-state Taxes

A telecommuter who is able to work from anywhere in today’s mobile workforce may be located in a different state from that in which the employer is based. This can make things unexpectedly tricky. A few states, among them New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska, all have laws that tax earnings of nonresidents, and many other states seem to be leaning in that direction as well. So be aware that extra taxes may be required of you. While there are many boons to telecommuting, avoiding state taxes isn’t one of them!

While this may seem like an oxymoron–Happy Tax day! Or make it a happy tax week if you’d like to file for an extension. Either way, hope you don’t find it too taxing.

Please share your tax tips!

 

 

Do You Have 8 Minutes?

Do you want a chance to win money?

If you work remotely — away from your main office — at least two days a week, then you are eligible to take our survey and enter to win!

Win_instant_cash_sweepstakes

Here’s the Deal:

We’ve been developing an online assessment to help telecommuters know what their strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to their telecommuting work habits.  But, we need a LOT of real-world people to take the survey so we can “test” the survey itself.  We’re calling it the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA).

The more the merrier! our Industrial Organization experts tell us that the more people we can get to take the survey, the better the survey will be.  So, if you know of any telecommuters, feel free to forward this email along.

Thank you for your consideration.  We appreciate your time.

Your completed survey is your entry to win the $100 cash prize.

Please note, sometimes the Survey Monkey link works best when cut and pasted directly into a browser.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TFAblog

Thank you so much.  

The TFA development team

Bridging Distance

The fine print:

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.
1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to those who complete the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) and who are 18 as of the date of entry. The sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of  the United States and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Bridging Distance (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of Bridging Distance, as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.
 
3. Sweepstakes Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on or about October 15, 2014 and ending Nov. 14, 2014. All online entries must be received by Nov. 14, 2014 11:59PM EST.
4. How to Enter: The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an completed TFA survey entry using the online form provided on this Sweepstakes email. The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance. You may enter only once and you must fill in the information requested. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance.
 
5. Prizes: Winner will receive $100. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Bridging Distance to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
 
7. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Sweepstakes will be selected in a random drawing under the supervision of the Sponsor. Winners will be notified via email to the email address they entered the Sweepstakes with within five (5) days following the winner selection. Bridging Distance shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 15 days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
 
The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Sweepstakes is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY ANY WINNER (AT SPONSOR’S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN SUCH WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE SWEEPSTAKES AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.
 
8. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that Bridging Distance, anyone acting on behalf of Bridging Distance, or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Sweepstakes, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.
9. Terms:Bridging Distance reserves the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes. In such case, Bridging Distance may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Bridging Distance. Bridging Distance reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or website or violates these Terms & Conditions.
Bridging Distance has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Sweepstakes, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to; multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by sweepstakes rules; or the use of bots, macros or scripts or other technical means for entering.
Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Bridging Distance reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from Bridging Distance. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.
10. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless Bridging Distance and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the sweepstakes and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.
11. Disputes:THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF United States AND Massachusetts, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Massachusetts having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
12. Privacy Policy:  Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Bridging Distance Web Site.
13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, mail your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA.Requests must be received no later than Nov. 20, 2014.
14. Sponsor:  The Sponsor of the Sweepstakes is Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA .

An Exciting Time

survey

Final Validation of our upcoming Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA)

 

Do you work remotely — away from your main office — at least two days a week?

If so, and you have 10 – 15 minutes, we’d politely ask that you help us out.  We get that your time is valuable, so we are offering a cash prize for one lucky person who does help us out (also our Industrial Psychology experts tell us that a prize will motivate you!)

As experts in the field of virtual work, we recognize the increased importance of telecommuting in today’s organizations.

For the past two years, we’ve been developing an online assessment tool that evaluates telecommuting work habits.  This tool — the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) uncovers weaknesses and strengths to help you become better at working remotely.

Here’s where you come in (and how you can win a cash prize):

As we near completion of our final validation cycle, we are in need of real-world data from real-world telecommuters such as yourself.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would take the next 10 – 15 minutes to complete the TFA and helps us gather that real-world data.

Your completed survey is your entry to win the $100 cash prize.

Please note, sometimes the Survey Monkey link works best when cut and pasted directly into a browser.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TFAblog

 

Thank you so much.  

The TFA development team

Bridging Distance

The fine print:

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.
1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to those who complete the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) and who are 18 as of the date of entry. The sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of  the United States and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Bridging Distance (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of Bridging Distance, as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.
 
3. Sweepstakes Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on or about October 15, 2014 and ending Nov. 14, 2014. All online entries must be received by Nov. 14, 2014 11:59PM EST.
4. How to Enter: The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an completed TFA survey entry using the online form provided on this Sweepstakes email. The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance. You may enter only once and you must fill in the information requested. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance.
 
5. Prizes: Winner will receive $100. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Bridging Distance to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
 
7. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Sweepstakes will be selected in a random drawing under the supervision of the Sponsor. Winners will be notified via email to the email address they entered the Sweepstakes with within five (5) days following the winner selection. Bridging Distance shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 15 days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
 
The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Sweepstakes is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY ANY WINNER (AT SPONSOR’S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN SUCH WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE SWEEPSTAKES AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.
 
8. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that Bridging Distance, anyone acting on behalf of Bridging Distance, or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Sweepstakes, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.
9. Terms:Bridging Distance reserves the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes. In such case, Bridging Distance may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Bridging Distance. Bridging Distance reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or website or violates these Terms & Conditions.
Bridging Distance has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Sweepstakes, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to; multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by sweepstakes rules; or the use of bots, macros or scripts or other technical means for entering.
Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Bridging Distance reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from Bridging Distance. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.
10. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless Bridging Distance and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the sweepstakes and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.
11. Disputes:THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF United States AND Massachusetts, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Massachusetts having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
12. Privacy Policy:  Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Bridging Distance Web Site.
13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, mail your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA.Requests must be received no later than Nov. 20, 2014.
14. Sponsor:  The Sponsor of the Sweepstakes is Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA .

 

Know Thyself: An Extravert’s Guide to Working from Home

Extravert Working from Home

Extravert Working from Home

 

An Extravert’s Guide to Working from Home

Extraverts are, by definition, very social. They like to be the center of attention, they hate to miss out on parties, and they usually pride themselves in their social skills. This is why, like most good psychologists, Nancy Da Silva and her colleagues (2010) guessed that employees who were very extraverted would probably seek jobs that involved a lot of interpersonal face time. Extraverts as telecommuters, they hypothesized, would likely be a rare combination. However, what they found was surprising:

Telecommuters were MORE extraverted on average than were non-telecommuters

 

So why does this matter?

Well, extraverts have the reputation for being a little…how should I put it? Needy. And I say this in the nicest of ways, because I am about as extraverted as they come.  But here’s what I mean:

Extraverts are often said to have strong affiliation skills. Basically, this means that we value close interpersonal bonds, and we tend to be warm and welcoming. However, it also means that we have a high need for affiliation. Whereas introverts often need alone time to “recharge” after a long day, extraverts often need more social time to give them energy and fulfillment. In fact, we often feel drained of our energy if we go too long without interacting with friends, family, or even strangers.

As a telecommuter, there are definite limitations to the amount of social interaction you have in a given workday. If you’re an extravert with a high need for affiliation, this could be problematic.

So how can you fulfill your needs as an extravert while still enjoying your flexible work-from-home set-up?

 

As a fellow extraverted teleworker, I offer the following 3 tips:

  • Get out of the house. If you’re extraverted, even just seeing other people will give you more energy. So if you start to get stumped on a project or you feel a little lonely, try going to your local library or café to work. I usually sit facing the door so that I can see everyone who walks in; it energizes me to see so many different types of people throughout the day, even if I don’t actually interact with them. A future blog will explore this in more detail, but what you’re experiencing is social facilitation, the phenomenon of an “audience” making you better at what you do.

 

  • Don’t eat alone. My dad used to have a business self-help book that used 300+ pages to relay this advice: never eat alone. The advice was also the title of the book, so I’m not really sure what the other 299+ pages consisted of. From what I could tell, the author’s reasoning was that approaching higher-ups during your lunch hour is a strategic way to climb the “corporate ladder”, etcetera and so forth. But I like the advice for another reason: Your lunch hour is a great time to escape the monotony of your work and “recharge”. Introverts will be satisfied with alone time (e.g., going on a walk, enjoying a cup of tea). But if you’re an extravert, the fastest way to recharge is to interact with others. So if you need an invigorating hour to prepare you for the second half of your day, sprinkle in some socialization.

 

  • Use the buddy system. My first year in grad school, I spent about 9 hours a week with my colleagues in a class setting. During the other 40+ hours I would write papers, read articles, and analyze data all by my lonesome. Very quickly, I found myself in an endless cycle of knowing that I needed to spend time with others to get more energy, but not having enough energy at the end of the day to initiate social hangouts. My solution? I started working alongside the people I cared about. Even though our work was for completely unrelated degrees (i.e., MS, MBA, MD, RN), we found that we all worked a little harder when we were holding each other accountable. Having that social support while I did such intellectually challenging tasks helped me to overcome the very serious ailment that we Millenials refer to as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

 

In sum, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being an introvert versus an extravert. Successful employees (and successful teleworkers) come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of your personality type, it is important to know yourself well enough to create a work environment that caters to your needs.

 

Question for Readers: How do you cater your work-from-home experience to your own unique personality?

 

P.S. Not sure where you fall on the introvert/ extravert continuum? This might help:

Extravert

I am the life of the party. | I feel comfortable around people. | I start conversations. | I talk to a lot of different people at parties. | I don’t mind being the center of attention. | I make friends easily. |I take charge. | I know how to captivate people. | I feel at ease with people.

Introvert

I don’t talk a lot. | I keep in the background. | I have little to say. | I don’t like to draw attention to myself. | I am quiet around strangers. |  I find it difficult to approach others. | I often feel uncomfortable around others. | I bottle up my feelings. | I am a very private person. | I wait for others to lead the way.

 
Source:  Da Silva, N., & Virick, M. (2010). Facilitating telecommuting: exploring the role of telecommuting intensity and differences between telecommuters and non-telecommuters. Retrieved from http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1151123.
 Image Source:  http://alexreichert.com/play/self-improvement/know-thyself/

The Case for Telework

dilbert_telecommute

With approximately 3.2 million US employees telecommuting full-time and 15-20 million US employees telecommuting part-time, the debate about telework effectiveness has become increasingly important for corporate decision-makers. What is this debate, you ask? Quite simply, CEOs and HR specialists are wondering what they always wonder: is this new way of working profitable? When our employees work from home, are they giving us the same quantity and quality of work?

The evidence would say that, yes, teleworkers are more productive, more satisfied, and less costly than employees who work in a traditional office space. But how is this possible?

If psychologists know anything about people, it’s that we like to be in control (Kossek, Lautsch, & Eaton, 2009). Allowing employees to work from home allows them to have more individual autonomy when it comes to how they live their lives. This increase in control has a very real impact on how employees work.

According to Martin and MacDonnell (2012), individuals who telecommute report higher retention, organizational commitment, productivity (i.e., quantity of work), and performance (i.e., quality of work). This is consistent with previous research by Gajendran and Harrison (2007, p. 1535), who also made the sweeping (yet strongly supported) statement that “telecommuting is mainly a good thing”.

Need more evidence that teleworkers aren’t getting paid to sit around eating bon-bons? Check out this video about why telecommuting is good for employees and employers alike:

 

Questions for readers: Do you think telecommuting is more or less effective than working in an office? How could your organization strategically implement telework?

Sources:
Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1524.
Kossek, E. E., Lautsch, B. A., & Eaton, S. C. (2009). “Good Teleworking”: Under What Conditions Does Teleworking Enhance Employees’ Well-being?. Technology and Psychological Well–Being. Cambridge, MA Cambridge University Press.
Martin, B. H., & MacDonnell, R. (2012). Is telework effective for organizations?: A meta-analysis of empirical research on perceptions of telework and organizational outcomes. Management Research Review, 35(7), 602-616.
Image from: http://dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/000000/10000/5000/000/15098/15098.strip.gif

Dividing the Housework without Dividing the Household

I sit on the couch reading an article about men doing more housework than ever before while my boyfriend handwashes dishes in our tiny NYC apartment. He has just served us an elaborate breakfast of omelettes and French-pressed coffee, which we ate in silence as I checked email and created my daily to-do list.

Soon he will begin a new job with a grueling commute, while I will continue to work from home.  And we find ourselves asking:

How will we divide the housework without dividing our household?

Here are three tips that we expect will help us; and possibly you, too:

1.  Discuss Expectations.  Splitting things down the middle is probably impractical, but an open conversation should allow you to come to a more equal (or at least acceptable) arrangement.

2.  State the Obvious.  Being “on-the-clock” means the same thing at home as in a traditional office.  Significant Others might not understand why you can’t do laundry, prepare a meal, clean the bathroom, and work at the same time.

3.  Be Patient.  Any change in a relationship dynamic takes time.  As you transition to a more equal distribution of housework, be sure to let your partner know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Read the full article on our BLOG!

Thankful to be Telecommuting

A peek at how telecomuting can make a difference in the lives of people living with, or caring for, people with chronic illness and disabilities.

This telecommuter is a tired one today.  I am a single parent with two children with Type 1 Diabetes.  Last night was a rough one — both kids had high blood sugars that necessitated additional insulin and monitoring at regular intervals throughout the night.  It was 3:30 am before my weary head hit the pillow.

Days like these make me incredibly thankful that I am able to work from home.  Typically, I am writing by 6:30 or 7:00 am, but today, it is 8:00 am before the first sip of coffee hits my lips.  I don’t usually work in my pajamas or yoga pants, but I can, and I am.

I’m not alone.

Millions of people world wide live with a disability.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that over 54 Million Americans or 19% of the U.S population have some sort of disability.  It reports “Disabled persons, as other members of society, have demand to be engaged in significant work, useful for society and for them.”

We all desire to engage in meaningful work.  People with disabilities are no different.  “Many people with disabilities have the desire and capabilities to work from their homes.  These individuals, many with good job skills, and a strong work ethic, constitute a hidden labour pool” (West and Anderson, 2005).

Telecommuting Loneliness is a genuine factor to the live of people who work from home.  Would a disabled person feel this isolation to a greater degree?  Not so, finds a Virginia Commonwealth University and MITE study (2001) which found that 90% of disabled teleworkers did not feel socially isolated during teleworking.  These people achieved a balance between their work and family life (Anderson, 2003)

Work Life Balance is a hot topic these days, and for good reason.  As with able-bodied people, working at home provides disabled people with an increased sense of control over their lives, leading to “greater productivity, better health, and increased morale.”. (Xu et al., 2006)

Telework is not for everyone (or every organization), and it isn’t the only viable choice for people with disabilities, either.  But for those whom telework is a good fit, based on their own personal ambitions, attitudes, and work habits, it is an effective way for millions of people around the world to be gainfully employed while considering their unique situation.

Thankfully, long nights like last night are not too frequent.  But they happen often enough.  Hopping in my truckfor an early morning commute today would not be the safest (or most productive) choice I could make. 

But call in a sick day? I need those for appointments, days the kids get sent home sick from school, and emergencies that dwarf my own exhaustion as a parent/caregiver.  I know that those extra hours of sleep this morning will make a world of difference in my day today.

And I can always nap, my hammock is calling ( :

Do you have any stories to share about telecommuting and disabilities or chronic illness?  We’d love to know how telecommuting has impacted your life.

Top Ten Tips for Telecommuters

Work from home?  Worried about the current backlash against telecommuters?  Here are top ten tips to help project your image as a trustworthy telecommuter.

1.  Always deliver as promised. Whatever work product you are expected to deliver — deliver it!  And if you can’t, communicate and renegotiate a new deadline as quickly as possible.  It will build your credibility and project you as dependable.

2.  Make promises you can keep. Even little ones. Especially little ones.  If you are asked if you can do something by Friday, and you know you’re swamped, speak up.  It increases confidence when you demonstrate a healthy respect for your workload.

3.  Communicate, communicate, communicate. Working from home provides great flexibility.  Keep consistent “work hours” and communicate this information to your team.  Let people know If you know about significant interruptions to this schedule.  If you are constantly unavailable, you will damage the trust your team has in you.

4.  Set Expectations. Take ownership of reaching out and establishing expectations around work product, tasks, meeting attendance, or other communications.  Having clear expectations, yours and others, lays the foundation for building trust and projecting your trustworthiness across your virtual workspace.

5.  Establish the HOW of communications. Establish a chat room and online newsgroups to encourage the free exchange of ideas and generate the “buzz” of those important informal conversations.  Discussing the how of communications divides the burden of inclusion, and ensures you and your colleagues benefit from each other’s input.

6.  Know yourself. How much people contact do you need?  Do you feel energized or drained at the end of a period of time in which you interact a lot with others?  If energized then, incorporate more “face time” into your work week to keep you connected and feeling like a part of the group.

7.  Know your team. How much your team needs to see your smiling face is important to your continued success as a virtual team member.  Discuss and establish which meetings require your presence.  “Out of sight, out of mind”, is not the place that you want to be.

8.  Know who your go-to people are. These are the people who either provide you with invaluable information or connect you to those that can.  They make it possible for you to continue to add value to the team, regardless of where you are connecting from.  Acknowledging and thanking them is a great way to keep them active and helping you.

9.  Follow up. After you’ve virtually delivered your work product, ensure that it was received.  Whatever your method of transmitting files, no system is perfect.  It doesn’t matter if you did the work if the people who needed it never got it.

10.  Communicate, communicate, communicate. This cannot be stressed enough.  You always want people to view you as an integral part of your team.  You do not want to be viewed as “that guy (male or female) who works from home”.

Projecting an image of credibility and productivity is critical to keeping your status as a virtual worker.  It is not enough to be credible and productive.  Your colleagues have to feel and believe that this is true of you.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into each tip for successful telecommuting.

What’s your best virtual working tip?