Sunday, June 01, 2008

Telecommuting may demand a much larger investment from home worker than in the past

Telecommuting in the future will require a lot more investment on the worker’s part than in the past, an article by Gabe Goldberg in the Jobs section (p K1) of The Washington Post this morning says. The lead story is “Tech that makes telecommuting work” and it is here.

It used to be that you had a dial-up connection or take-home terminal or some software package like PC Anywhere.

Now most telecommuters will need a separate room and computer for work, with separate phone and Internet connections (to avoid the security problems from comingling with personal assets), and many other facilities, such as fax, scanning, copying, mailing. It is true that connectivity software like Gotomypc has become more powerful. Physical stability and security is also important; the utilities in an area should not be overly exposed to hazards from storms, which is becoming a problem in many areas.

Financially, this might require much more in the way of resources from a worker than in the past. It might make sense if it totally replaces driving at today’s oil prices, but not if it requires having a larger home with more facilities in addition to travel. A worker would need the right setup to take advantage of tax laws. In many cases video conferencing capability might be necessary, and the section of the home with the office might have to be physically presentable, itself an investment. The worker would have to be undistracted from family. It’s not clear that home-based jobs in customer service, widely advertised recently, provide enough compensation to justify this kind of personal investment.

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