Telecommuting: Working from Home on the Internet

For many it may sound too good to be true but according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll in 2012 as many as 1 out of 5 people work from home online. It was a more popular option for workers in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America whereas working from home online only accounted for about 1 out of 10 workers in countries such as Canada, Italy, France and Germany.

What is telecommuting?

Telecommuting in its simplest definition means working from home via the internet. You essentially commute to work remotely, hence the term telecommuting. Employees who work in this manner are known as telecommuters or teleworkers but most of us simply refer to them as a work-from-home employees.

If you have never heard of telecommuting then you probably have not been in touch with current affairs in the technology sector. After all it is technology that has made telecommuting a reality. Telecommuters do not always work from their home literally. Some may work from other locations, even coffee shops and internet cafes.

How does telecommuting work?

Most employees wake up in the morning, do their daily routine to prepare for work, get into their car or public transport and commute to their place of employment where their work day begins. With telecommuting, your place of work is in your home. There is no actual commute on the roads to get to the office.

Telecommuting does not always require the internet. Sometimes you may simply login to the company server from your computer without requiring the services of an internet service provider (ISP). Of course you would need a telecommunications device, be it a telephone line or mobile phone.

However, the convenience of the internet means that you would connect first to the internet before accessing your company server either through your browser or a third-party client software. Whatever the route, the point is that you are not at the office but at home and working for an income.

Most telecommuting jobs require you to also work with email and an instant messenger service for employees to communicate through the day. The advantage of electronic communication in this manner, be it through text (emails and IM), video or audio, is that it can be recorded. There is usually no “he said, she said” as employees communicate face-to-face in the traditional office environment.

What type of jobs are available?

The type of telecommuting jobs vary by industry. Many jobs are not specifically categorised as a telecommuting opportunity. After joining a company and working in a traditional place of employment, like an office building, some employees may then be allowed to work from home on some days, or sometimes even on a full time basis.

These employment opportunities must entail a job description that can be carried out through a computer and does not require your physical presence in an office, store or factory. For obvious reasons, jobs in the hospitality industry particularly those involving dealing with customers (like being a server) will not be available as a telecommuting job.

Even if you are not an IT graduate or journalist, there are still many jobs that can be done online. However, as with an offline job, it also depends on your skills. Very few work from home online jobs require little to no skills or expertise in some industry. When available, this is unskilled work is quickly snapped up and often it can be done for minimal cost to the company by freelance workers in developing nations who will gladly work for a pittance.

How much do online jobs pay?

The pay scale for telecommuting jobs varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Jobs that require a higher skill set for which there are very few skilled candidates usually pays more. This is no different from the offline job market. Understandably high paying jobs like these are few and far between.

Overall most online jobs pay less than the offline equivalent. Employers are able to pay a lower salary because of the demand for telecommuting work from home opportunities. Sometimes it can be as much a 40% less than the same job with the same employer in the traditional office setting.

Even with a lower take-home salary, it may still be worthwhile for you if you factor in all the savings. Consider the costs of going to work – gas or subway fare for commuting, day care for the kids, deli lunches, coffee and the clothes and grooming to look the part. The lower pay may not mean that you will have to cut back on your lifestyle at the end of the day.

However, for most people who opt for telecommuting jobs the allure is the freedom that comes with working from home. Consider a life free of the regular office politics and rush hour. You can be literally anywhere in the world and continue to earn an income as long as you have a computer and internet access.

References:
About one in five workers worldwide telecommute. Reuters

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