Home Button

About Telework For Teleworkers For Managers For Organizations Technology Resources

For Teleworkers

Exploring Telework

Things You Need to Know

Self-Assessment Form

Applying for Telework

Mastering Telework

Tips for Success

Setting up a Home Office


The benefits of telework may be enticing, but before you ask your manager if you can start working from home, you should be aware of the issues that have proven difficult for other teleworkers. Also, your manager is not going to say "yes" to your telework request without first determining if you are right for the job. He or she may want to discuss some of these topics to judge how well you will handle telework.

The Right Work
Job Knowledge
Self Discipline & Time Management
Avoiding Distractions
Being a Team Player
A Good Workspace
The Right Equipment
Losing Your Office Space
Working Too Many Hours
Working Alone

The Right Work: Your manager may not consider you for telework because of your job and the amount of face-to-face contact your job requires. But even employees who are frequently in staff meetings or frequently meeting with clients may be able to telework at least occasionally. Separate your work into a collection of tasks and think about which tasks must be done in the office and which ones can be done at home. Can the latter be scheduled for a single day - a telework day? Generally, telework tasks are those that don't require face-to-face meetings, don't require specialized office equipment, and don't pose a security risk if done from the home.

... back to top

Job Knowledge: If you are new to the organization or new to your job, your manager may tell you to wait a few months before applying for telework. Teleworkers are people who know their work and their organization well enough that they can work independently without having to frequently check with their manager or colleagues.

... back to top

Self Discipline & Time Management: Can you make yourself do the work when no one is there watching? Some people find this difficult and will procrastinate; thinking they can catch up on the work later. You need (or need to develop) good time management skills to telework.

... back to top

Avoiding Distractions: There are two types of distractions; those you impose on yourself and those imposed by others. As a teleworker you have to control both. The first type is related to self-discipline: It's easy to get distracted by the chores you need to do around the home or a favorite TV program. While some creative scheduling might be allowed, it's easy to spend too much of your time on non-work activities. Some teleworkers force themselves to stick to a regular schedule, with a regular start & stop time, regular lunch time, and regular breaks.

The second type of distraction is caused by family, friends, and neighbors who don't realize that you are "at work" when at home. Tell them it's a work day and that you need to get back to work. In the future, make arrangements for them to visit during your lunch or break time, and if you have a regular telework schedule, let them know what it is. Doing so may reinforce the sense that you are "at work".

... back to top

Being a Team Player: Can you still be a member of the team if you are working at home? This is something your manager will consider, so you should give some advance thought as to how you will do it. Working at home doesn't have to mean you are "off the team". You need to maintain communication with your manager and colleagues back at the office, or wherever they are working. This means returning emails and phone calls promptly. If you end up teleworking several days a week, maintaining your office relationships becomes more difficult and will require extra effort. Instant Messaging and other communications tools can help.

If you are the type of person who can work well without a lot of social contact, you may have to force yourself to pick up the phone and call coworkers back at the office, but you need to do it. They need to hear your voice and know you are still on the team. To avoid resentment from coworkers, make sure you are pulling your weight; be sure your manager is giving you your share of the pick-up work that gets handed out at the office.

... back to top

A Good Workspace: Do you have room at home to set up a home office? If you have a family, the home office may need to be in a separate room. Is the space suitable for an office? Does it have a sufficient number of grounded electrical outlets? Does it have an atmosphere that you can be comfortable working in? Some people are comfortable working all day in a basement office, but others need lots of light. Consider what the space will be like during the months when daylight is limited. Creating a home office means giving up some living space. Are you willing to do this?

... back to top

The Right Equipment: Do you have the equipment you need to work from home? Working at home all day, or several days a week usually requires a more complete home office setup than what is required by the person who works from home occasionally. Read Setting up a Home Office in the toolkit. So you can think about what you will need before asking your manager if you can telework.

... back to top

Losing Your Office Space: For employers, one of the benefits of telework is that if enough employees telework often enough the organization can reduce the square feet of office space it leases. Usually this means teleworkers will have to use shared space on the days they come into the office. Sometimes this is space you can reserve, other times it is first come, first serve. This probably won't happen when your organization is new to telework, but it may happen once enough employees join the program. Are you willing to give up your office space in exchange for a home office?

... back to top

Working Too Many Hours: If you are a workaholic who has trouble quitting at the end of the workday, then telework may be a bad choice for you. People who are prone to overwork often benefit from being in a regular office environment where they can see others take breaks and quit work at the end of the day.

... back to top

Working Alone: Different people respond differently to different environments. Some people love having one or two days as week (or more) when they can work alone and not have to interact with others. Other people can't stand being alone even for a day and wouldn't be able to work unless surrounded by the activity of the workplace. If you worry about feeling isolated or if you worry that you will miss socializing with coworkers even for a day, then telework may not be for you.

... back to top

In the Toolkit

This space will contain links to related pages in the toolkit


On the Web

This space will contain links to related pages on the Internet

About the Telework Pilot Project

Site Map

Search only teleworktoolkit.com

This page was last updated on June 5, 2009