Getting Clueful: Seven Things the CIO Should Know About Telecommuting [ was Esther Schindler, Senior Online Editor, CIO.com, is Researching Work Over IP ]

By Esther Schindler

<ed.note>FWIW: You’ll have to click to the rest of the article to see my quotes.</ed.note>

IT workers who telecommute share advice for their bosses about the process, technology, and attitudes necessary for staff to be productive when they work from home.

May 09, 2007 — CIO — Telecommuting provides employees with the flexibility and quiet they need to optimize their productivity. Plus, it offers employers opportunities to save money and recruit workers from a more geographically diverse—and potentially cheaper—talent pool. For IT professionals, telecommuting is certainly the best work/life option.

However, working from home isn’t always easy for individuals or employers. For telecommuting arrangements to work for both parties, employees need to be self-motivated, have access to the necessary technology (such as a high-speed Internet connection and a VPN), and clearly define job duties that can be accomplished remotely. At the same time, employers need to make their teleworkers feel like they’re a part of the team, integrate telecommuters into workflows and judge employee productivity by results rather than visual cues.

But too often, IT management doesn’t understand the key issues that can affect productivity and team morale. Managers can make painful and expensive errors even when their hearts are in the right place. If you get telecommuting right, you’ll have a crew of independent technologists who get their jobs done efficiently; if not, you’ll create dissension, distrust and workflow confusion.

She posted this series of questions at LinkedIn.com Answers:

Do you telecommute? What do you wish your boss would understand about it?
I’m working on an article for CIO.com, and I’d like input from telecommuters.

If you telecommute, full- or part-time, what *one* thing do you wish the CIO or IT Management would understand that they don’t currently "get"? The answer can be anything — political, technical, procedural, whatever. It can be a big issue ("I wish they’d trust me to do my work") or a niggling annoyance ("I hate that they send out ‘donuts in the lunchroom!’ messages and I never get any of the donuts.")

I will collect opinions from a wide variety of people who work in IT, over the next week or so. I’ll collate the results and then turn them into a <modest cough> brilliant essay which will be published on CIO.com.

(I’ll listen to input from people who don’t telecommute, too, but most of my attention will be given to the people who DO telecommute because my context is "if you’re going to do this, we’ll tell you how to do it right.")

I realize that you may have more than one "…and THEN I’d say…!" item. But I ask people to keep it to one answer to help me clarify priorities.

I’m happiest when I can quote someone specifically ("Esther Schindler is a programmer at the Groovy Corporation") but it’s okay to have an indirect reference too ("Esther is a programmer at a financial services firm in the midwest"). I can even accept anonymity if necessary ("a programmer named Esther said…"). You can write to me privately if you like, but I suspect the question is of interest to the larger community, so feel free to respond to the thread here.

Esther Schindler
ESchindler at cxo.com
Senior Online Editor, CIO.com