Rinky Marwaha Stop stereotyping a ‘remote’ employee October 26, 2017

Ideally, there should be no demarcation between a contract employee, say a freelancer, telecommuter or a remote employee, and a full-time worker. But we also can’t ignore that there is no such thing as an ideal world.

It is the value of the work and value addition to the work which should be taken as the factors that determine the true worth of a worker and not if he or she is a full-time employee or a contract worker. To say the least, the labels should have been there to differentiate between two employees to figure who’s available when and what responsibility one has. But such is not the case always!

However, this scenario is changing, but still there is a fine line between the two. Freelancers who work for a join are at time given the short shrift in terms of the amenities provided to them. The pay for their work is determined as per the work itself and in terms of relationship building with leaders and co-workers, they at times are given short change.

This is perhaps because we do not physically see them present working within our premises. They usually work from home, today home can be anything, sitting in Starbucks cafe or working while travelling, and thus the number of hours they put in are not exactly countable or visible to other staffers.

Also, they are not available for any other function but purely for the one they are hired for. Thus, their utility in terms of other job functions is not visible or clearly in front of the watchful eyes or ears of the leader or the peers. Sometimes, their work hours, since they may be from home, are taken as “something they do from home, god alone knows how much of actual effort has gone into it.”

It is not taken very seriously since it may get intermingled with some odd jobs which they may be doing along with on a personal score as well.

At times, even though some people utilize their time at office doing personal chores, this goes unnoticed since they are officially “at work.” Thus, the psyche of people regarding work from home has to undergo more of a change for this type of work portfolio to gain more respectability.

Stop calling me a remote employee

Due to the finances (the employer does not have to pay for space and amenities to the remote employee) and the nature of this work, it is becoming more popular. The fine line between balancing professional and personal lives becomes simpler for telecommuters.

Also, we are now in an era of increasing our bank of experiences rather than our bank of material things for us to be called “rich.” Telecommuting helps us become richer in experiences since it offers a far wider scope of intermingling work with personal activities.

As per the Citrix workplace of the future report, “organizations will have almost a fifth less workspace by the end of 2020, provide just two-thirds of a desk for each office employee, and completely redesign their workplace.”

The reports notes, it is a hot trend – worldwide, 91 percent of organizations are adopting workshifting. In fact, those organizations that have already, or plan to embrace workshifting, predict that one third of the workforce will no longer even access the corporate network from their local office.

It can be said that telecommuting offers a better work-life balance. Since the person is available more often than not at home, they can attend to their household duties in a far better and more personal manner. Thus, they can be more relaxed while they are working since the home chores are well sorted out. Even if they are working, it is so in their personal domains where they may be more comfortable.

However, their family should realize that they may physically be present in the home premises, but they are not available for home chores all the time. There is a need to learn that home-based workers should not be unduly disturbed while they are “at work.” This is one principle which really needs to be imbibed by children and spouses and whosoever else is present at home.

Adding to that, when you say ‘remote’, it automatically transcends you very far. Really very far. It makes you feel like “OK, you are a remote employee there but better get a full-time job first.” Then do all that stuff. OK, not OK, always.

Stop stereotyping a remote employee

Telecommuting is a big boon as far as small businesses are concerned. As mentioned above, the entire package of maintaining official premises for work can be done away with if employees are working from home. This will lead to big cuts in the infrastructure expenditure of the company which can be channelled for some other purpose.

However, what is found is that effective communication between the employer and employee becomes a bit of a difficult proposition. Also, the relationship between employees suffers. This becomes something which is to be managed in place of being something which manages itself on its own if one is working in a common environment.

Also, what studies suggest is that not each one of us is cut out to be a telecommuter. It requires a certain kind of mindset to be one. First and foremost, one must be disciplined enough to be able to work on one’s own without a certain “leader” breathing down our neck all the time.

The entire melodrama of having co-workers and peers and the competition they bring in is lost in this process. What you do is your achievement, adds to your merit, and that is the final word on this subject. Since the employer is not present at the site of the work being done, it may become tougher, for some, to convince them of certain nuances regarding the projects being done.

As far as the company is concerned, remote workers at times do not give back-up of the company data to their employers. This is something which has to be kept a track of as a separate issue. Or else, this whole gambit may be lost to the company annals. It is just the final product which comes to them and not the surrounding issues and information.

The employee does have more freedom as far as timing is concerned, but deadlines need to be maintained. Thus, it is more of personal integrity of the employee which is at stake here. For some, this can be a worrisome aspect. For others, it is a matter of more joy.

All said and done, telecommuting is now being taken seriously by a large proportion of the working populace.

It cuts down time for commuting, no doubt. Thus, it provides more time for productive work. This in itself is a very big onus, among its other facets.

If the system gets more transparent and employers and employees embrace flexibility and have more faith in each other, this format of working really can bring in far more actual working hours than what hours exist today. Thus, it is wise to take remote working as a serious proposition and to accept it as the vibe for work in times to come.

(With inputs from Ayush Garg).

A writer by profession and more by choice. I feel strongly for all tasks in which either parent can work or stay at home basis of their kids to have their share of parental care. I am also a spoken English trainer for it is English language that makes my world tick.

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