Whether you're working from a home office or just need to take an occasional business call while on the road, telecommuting has become a hugely acceptable way to work in America. However, there has been a great deal of discussion as to whether telecommuters can be as productive as their cubicle-dwelling counterparts. With the right tools, the mobile worker can be a successful employee, says Harprit Singh, CEO of unified communications services company Intellicomm. Here are a few ways that workers can stay efficient and productive when working out of the office.
"From a communication standpoint, having broadband access--wired or wireless--is probably number one," says Singh. "Secondly, you want to address the question of a cell phone or landline so that the employee has a good communication channel. When you've got Internet access, you can essentially have phone functionality via VoIP. You can also communicate through faxes, email and IM ... they are extremely powerful tools in terms of keeping in touch during your work experience. You can also use communications channels such as Web conferencing or teleconferencing to help make your work more efficient." Intellicomm's unified communications service, Innoport, helps users quickly access necessary applications by offering unified voice, fax and data messaging. "With all of these technologies, you really can work successfully on a remote basis."
Another key factor to consider when working remotely, adds Singh, is reliable security. "Employees should get good security, since there are definitely concerns once you step out of the office. Anytime you establish a channel of communication, you have to think about who could get access to it. You may have all of the technology, but if you don't add security to the mix, it can come back to hurt you ... Security issues really need to be addressed."
Singh adds that since a mobile worker can be defined in many ways--from an employee who works entirely from home to a user trying to stay in touch on a business trip or at a power lunch--their needs should be determined on an individual basis. "Some folks can carry a good portion of their business with them using a PDA or laptop. Certainly, if you're writing long emails on your PDA, it can get a little bit difficult. It all depends on how much you're away from the office, and how much access you need."
What about workers in verticals that require face-to-face interaction (i.e. sales)--can they also be productive telecommuters? "If you're in sales, the very fact that you're getting face-to-face time means that you're out of the office, so you actually are a remote worker. From a communications standpoint," says Singh, "being a successful mobile worker is not specific to any one vertical industry."
"The beauty of this is that you can have a laptop and sit outdoors--you can be anywhere," adds Singh. "You don't have to be tied down."