Do you really need to make the daily trip to your office? Since 2005, the number of telecommuting employees in the US has increased by 66 percent.
Sandra Daudlin, CMP, Director of Meetings, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, is one of the many members of the meetings and events industry who does not report to a work desk. Daudlin travels 10 – 12 weeks out of the year. When she's at home, she isn't near the ISMRM headquarters in Berkeley, California. She's working from her home office in Toronto.
"Initially, there may have been skepticism about the ability to work remotely," Daudlin says. "While it took just a bit of time to get processes in place, it has flowed incredibly smoothly since the get-go."
Daudlin has worked in a traditional office-based position before, but she says that she's actually able to accomplish more without the requirement of reporting to an office everyday.
"The biggest benefit of working satellite is the ability to remain focused on the task at-hand," Daudlin says. "Overall, I enjoy increased productivity due to fewer distractions. I can honestly say that if I reported to an office, the Society would get less of me."
There's data to support Daudlin's perspective, too. In fact, past studies indicate that employees are 10 - 20 percent more productive when they work from home.
While some might argue that telecommuting restricts your ability to separate home from office, these figures show that working from home actually gives employees more opportunities for personal growth. Eight in 10 telecommuters indicate that they have a good work-life balance, and Daudlin agrees.
"It's no secret that many of us in the meetings industry work long hours, but once I peel myself out of my home office, I'm done," Daudlin says.
Based in Sacramento, California, Paul Miller, regional vice president of Arizona-based HPN Global, has seen how successful working remotely can be in many of his positions in the meetings industry. While his current position at HPN is his first job that does not require him to be in an office, he's no stranger to working closely with employees who don't sit next to him.
During his time as Director of Sales at the Sacramento CVB and Director of Sales at the Nashville CVB, Miller says each organization maintained a strong presence through remote offices. It's a common practice that pays off in the hiring process.
"You're not asking people to uproot their personal networks and their families just to work for your organization," Miller says. "Instead, you're attracting the most talented people to join your team and letting them tailor their work style and their individual strengths to meet the goals of your organization."
Despite all of the positive stories and statistics surrounding telecommuting, there are still potential drawbacks to working from home.
"More often than not, it's easier to manage someone when they're five steps away versus five hundreds miles away," Miller says.
Outside of the inability to have work-focused conversations and in-person meetings, Miller adds that working remotely makes it challenging to have any kind of non-business interaction.
"It's up to both the employer and the employee to work harder to establish and maintain strong personal connections when they don't see each other everyday," Miller says.
Technology: A Telecommuter's Best Friend
Still, establishing those connections is possible.
Daudlin uses Skype on a regular basis to provide a face-to-face connection with staff members at the ISMRM headquarters. She also uses Facebook and Twitter for casual ways to stay connected.
In addition to attending HPN Global's Annual Meeting each December, Miller also uses Skype with his HPN colleagues. He also relies on monthly conference calls with his team.
"Any company that has a number of people that aren't feeling the day-to-day connection has to put these kinds of tools in place," Miller says. "It ensures that everyone stays focused on the core vision and strategy of the organization – no matter where they are."
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