Telecommuting issues emerge at Yahoo!

There are may significant advantages for a company letting workers telecommute and work remotely. Productivity often increases as this flexibility makes workers happier. In today’s world, it’s important for a company to offer this option for some jobs.

Yet there are disadvantages when you don’t have workers together on a consistent basis. It’s impossible to replicate the casual environment of workers being together at lunch and around the office. Much gets done when people are together.

Every company needs to strike the right balance, and that’s what Marissa Mayer is trying to do at Yahoo!, but her recent announcement has sparked a backlash.

Here’s a clip:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Just reading this, it seems like this could have been handled better by bring up the issue and looking at specific jobs. As stated above, balance is best.

But I suspect the problem may have gotten out of control at Yahoo! and that has prompted Mayer to take a hard line. Workers can be very productive at home in terms of how much they work, but it’s harder to keep workers focused on what’s best for the company if they are always at home.

It will be fascinating to see how this story develops.

Rise of Remote Workers

Here’s a cool infographic on the remote worker revolution. We’re seeing it with so many companies as more people want to work from home, and more companies are more than happy to accommodate them.

How to Find a Legitimate Work from Home Job

 Work from home jobs are the toughest jobs to find, get and keep. Why? For starters, the demand is much higher than the supply. Stay at home moms, students, moonlighters, people with limited physical abilities, and those that prefer not to  commute are all competing for these jobs. Some may not mind the commute, but prefer to work in a relaxed and familiar environment. What this adds up to is thousands of workers lining up to compete for the few truly legitimate work from home jobs available. 

Next, some of the best work from home jobs actually begin as onsite jobs. A large percentage of workers get to the point in their careers where they can suggest working at home part-time. Eventually, if the boss is satisfied, these part-time situations move into full-time work from home positions.

If you’re fortunate enough to land a work from home job or convince your boss that it will work out better for everyone—great, but you’re still not home free. Stay at home jobs are not for you if you are unorganized, easily distracted, or tend to procrastinate. Many stay at home job seekers mistakenly believe that stay at home workers can work when they feel like it and they only have to answer to themselves. This is not true. In fact, if you work at home for a company, they will monitor you just as much as they would if you were working in an office—maybe even more. Stay at home workers still need to produce and employers will waste no time making sure you do.

Best Work from Home Jobs

The following list of work from home positions includes jobs that are suitable for all skill levels and personality types. Some may sound like fun, while others might sound like, well, work. It is important to remember that no matter how much fun these jobs are (or are not), in order to keep your position you must always remain professional and follow company rules to the letter. If you don’t, there are thousands of stay at home job seekers who are ready and willing to take your place.

Some of the best work from home jobs include: Customer Service Representative, Virtual Assistant, Medical Transcriptionist, Online Tutor, and Travel Agent.

Customer Service Agent – Customer service agents work in just about every industry. They work in travel, telecommunications, retail, insurance, entertainment, and more. True, many companies do outsource, but there are still some that prefer to hire workers right here in the U.S. Just a few examples include wireless cell phone services, auto insurance companies (claims), ticket agencies (concerts, sporting events), and travel agencies. To find a work at home customer service position, contact the company you’re interested in directly.

Virtual Assistant  – “Virtual assistant” is a fairly new job title, but it’s growing at a rapid pace. Companies and businesses both small and large, use virtual assistants to do everything from mailings and bookkeeping to marketing and data entry. There are several ways to become a part of this new industry. You can sign up with an agency (simply search through listings online) or you can start your own service. Our advice, to see how it’s done, try working with a service first. Use your favorite search engine to look for virtual assistant agencies online. 

Medical Transcriptionist – All transcription jobs require different and specific skills. If you are working for the medical industry, you must have a firm grasp of medical terminology or if you are working in the legal field, you should be familiar with legal terms. You must also be a fast typist. The minimum wpm for most positions is 65. To find medical transcriptionist jobs, use your favorite search engine to locate agencies. One of the most professional and reliable agencies out there is MedQuist (formerly Spheris). Visit www.medquist.com for job listings and information about how to get started.

Online Tutor – Most online tutoring agencies prefer to hire individuals with an associate degree or higher. You should also have excellent grades in the subjects you plan to specialize in. All online tutoring agencies will check your credentials. To locate online tutoring opportunities, just use your favorite search engine or visit www.tutor.com. There are literally hundreds of online tutoring agencies to choose from, so take your time and do your research.

Travel Agent – Online travel agents are much less expensive to hire than operating out of an office. Cruise lines, cruise travel agencies, hotels, and more hire travel agents (also customer service reps.) to help customers find the right travel package or the cheapest flights. You can check for openings for just about any cruise line or hotel by visiting the line’s official website or you can visit Locate A Travel Agency (LATA) for travel agency listings  across the U.S., www.locateatravelagency.com.

No matter how polished an agency, company, or business website looks, always do your homework. Check to make sure the company or agency has a physical and verifiable address. And no, PO boxes do not count. Also, make sure the agency or company has a phone number. Call to see if you can get through to a live person. Finally, find out if the company is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) by visiting the BBB at www.bbb.org.

Tips and Warnings: If a company or agency asks you to pay an application fee, to pay for a list or to pay for equipment or software, do think twice. You should never, ever have to pay a fee or otherwise to obtain a position.

Online resources for your business

Anyone can be an armchair entrepreneur these days. You can run so many aspects of your business through the Internet.

One area that makes a ton of sense is online printing. Remember the old days when you had to schlep back and forth to suppliers like printers, or wait for proofs to arrive in the mail? Even recently many people used places like Kinko’s for simple stuff like their business cards.

Now, you can do everything online, from laying out your printed product to seeing the final proof. With many vendors you can do the whole thing without needing to speak with a single person, though that is always an option as well.

One exercise you should do right away is to list all of the vendors you worked with in the last year. In each case, see if there’s an online alternative. I’ll bet you’ll be able to replace many of them with cheaper alternatives.

Naturally, there are times when personal relationships matter, along with reliability and quality. That said, you might be shocked by the price and convenience savings available, so at least you’ll have a point of reference for future negotiations.

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