Telecommuting (was Re: [thelist] Currently Freelancer - Becoming Employee?

Shirley Kaiser, SKDesigns skaiser at
Tue May 8 01:27:40 CDT 2001

At 09:00 PM 05/07/2001, Tamara Abbey wrote:
>At 11:06 PM 5/7/2001 -0400, aardvark wrote:
>>well, as a small business owner, i find hiring an employee who will
>>never come to work a not-too-appetizing venture... how can i train
>>you?  how can i check your work in progress, instead of the more
>>expensive post-production QA?  how can i learn your strengths and
>>weaknesses?  how can i schedule you into staff meetings?  check
>>your daily progress?  keep you up-to-date on traffic?  how can i be
>>sure you aren't screwing me by working on other things or handing
>>my clients' sensitive data around, or keeping it unsecured on a
>>machine stuck on a cable modem?  how do i distribute software
>>updates and patches (which i would do, i would not allow you to
>>purchase it and deduct it, we have someone to do that)?  how
>>would i ensure you use version control?  or follow our process?
>>how would i ensure you are responsive to email and phone calls?
>Aardvark poses some very interesting questions that given the prevalence 
>of e-mail, teleconferencing, etc., I find surprising.
>My husband recently had a change in his job description and he now works 
>from home (ack! maybe it's time I went and found a job outside the home!). 
>He does go to the corporate office on occasion, but primarily, he goes to 
>work at 8 a.m. every day -- just on the other side of the door. And, when 
>he comes home from work, he's home. It works for him since there are fewer 
>distractions -- a 4-year-old can be /easier/ to control than some 
>co-workers -- seriously!
>I know aardvark's taking a very hard line here to make a point, but under 
>what circumstances would some of you consider a telecommuter?

I am a small business owner, running my very busy web design & development 
business from my home office. I work as a team on projects, I subcontract 
out work, people subcontract work to me, and it's worked wonderfully for 5 
years now -- almost all of which has been with people elsewhere. I think 
this is somewhat different, though. However, because it's worked so well 
for me, I wouldn't think twice about considering a telecommuter.

There's lots that I'd need to see first, though. In addition to having the 
necessary skills and all that I'd want to be clear on in a typical office 
arrangement, the telecommuter must have good discipline to work well 
independently, stay on task, etc. without a boss in the same physical 
office space.

And I wouldn't care about having a time frame structure as long as the 
deadlines are met. Having my home office for quite awhile now, I've 
definitely warped "office hours" beyond recognition.

In my own situation, many of the questions aardvark poses wouldn't apply. 
What he's asking are certainly concerns if they do apply, though. Regarding 
the prompt email responses, cc'ing me would help me follow what's going on.

>Under what circumstances would a part-time telecommute/pat-time in-house 
>be acceptable?

For me, it would probably be the only thing I'd do right now, although if 
needed I could set someone else up here. I've gotten pretty spoiled working 
here in my shorts and slippers. (I've worked in the corporate and academic 
worlds, too, so this is all a huge contrast to my business suit days.)

So, since I have a home office anyway, I may have a different view on 
hiring a telecommuter than if I had an office and staff  in a more 
traditional business environment.

Even if I did have a more traditional environment, if someone is talented 
enough, has enough going for them and I can see that it would work fine, 
I'd consider a telecommuter, too. I'm really used to working with people 
all over the world, so I'm used to this kind of arrangement anyway. The 
adjustment for me would be getting used to being in an office environment 
again. <chuckle> But I like that, too, and I miss the comradery and 
brainstorming, and "hey, look at this. What do you think?"  (although now 
we just send email and post something in a test area.....and then talk on 
the phone about it.).

>Would you rather never see that person's face?

<chuckle> Well, if I felt that way, I probably wouldn't want to hire them, 
either. There's no getting around the physical presence, though, and 
meeting face to face, and looking at a person straight in the eye.

I think if I did hire a telecommuter that it wouldn't matter where the 
person lived. If we needed to meet in person regularly for whatever reason, 
though, living in the same vicinity would certainly be more practical.

>I'm curious as to what some of your thoughts and policies are.
><tamara />

I'm also curious about how companies are handling this. I've seen how 
telecommuter numbers are growing, and I'd love to see how people work that 
out, too.

Shirley E. Kaiser, M.A.
SKDesigns  mailto:skaiser at
Website Development
Pianist, Composer
Moderator, I-Design  

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