As telecommuting becomes a trend, many project team individuals will be working from remote sites.
The question is will they be able to collaborate as a team regardless of the distance, the technology and the project culture?
In a future article, we will discuss some of the challenges relating to telecommuting and how Compass AE can be the solution.
A typical telecommuting challenge
If you have any questions on how to collaborate remotely as a team, please contact us through contactus[tat]collaboration[dott]com. Replace [tat] with "@" and [dot] with "." We will send you a white paper on our Compass AE methodology.
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Good News for Professionals Who Want to Work at Home
By Sue Shellenbarger
Amid the numerous files I juggle on my desk, one has been growing steadily for years. It now contains a 3½-inch stack of missives from readers, all asking the same question: How can I get a good job working from home? After years with few answers, I have news at last:
A growing number of employers, from UnitedHealth Group and Safeco to Capgemini, IBM, American Express and Sun Microsystems, are hiring skilled new employees to telecommute right from the start. These aren't the piecework, independent-contractor gigs or commission-only sales jobs that have characterized at-home "employment" in the past. They are full-time corporate jobs with benefits, available without the prerequisite of working for the company for a few years first.
Before you rush to your email or phone to ask how to snag one of these jobs -- read on. These new work-at-home opportunities number only in the thousands, a speck on a vast U.S. labor-force landscape of 150 million workers. Landing one often requires a serendipitous confluence of sought-after skills, experience, personal attributes and timing, along with a measure of luck.
Nevertheless, the nascent trend is remarkable for the breadth of industries it encompasses, from financial services to health care, and for what it heralds for the future. The factors driving it -- the unmet need for skilled workers, improvements in mobile-office technology and a drive to cut real-estate costs -- are solid. All this suggests a new hole has opened in the dam of employer resistance to telecommuting.
"I don't see any downside" to expanding work-at-home hires, says Jeff Diana, senior vice president, human resources, for Safeco, a Seattle-based insurer. Safeco has hired 91 new home-based employees so far this year, including claims examiners, adjustors and managers; about 1,500 of its 7,000 employees now work away from corporate offices, dramatically expanding Safeco's talent pool. "With technology as good as it is," Mr. Diana says, "there aren't many jobs that can't be done remotely."
/// It is only a matter of time, companies would realize that they don't need to be invested in as much brick and mortar as they are right now. ///
Networking is among the best ways to land one of these jobs. That's how Steve Sisco became a telecommuting underwriter in Birmingham, Ala., for Phoenix Cos., an insurance and investment concern. A 25-year veteran of the insurance industry, Mr. Sisco sought a work-at-home position about three years ago. He likes knowing that "I could just pack up my computer and go anywhere."
Having a hot skill set is usually essential. Nurses, computer technicians, financial analysts, software engineers, project and marketing managers, programmers, recruiters and underwriters are among common targets at the moment. Delma Sweazey, Seminole, Fla., a nurse and clinical-care manager, was hired earlier this year by UnitedHealth, traveling to see patients in their homes and elsewhere several days a week and doing paperwork and phone calls from home; this gives her flexibility to see her two children off to school. Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth expects to hire a total of 2,000 people into telecommuting jobs this year, says Tom Valerius, vice president, recruitment services.
Beyond that, candidates must persuade employers they're dependable. "If you say, 'I want to be a telecommuter because I have kids at home,' or, 'I need to let my dog out,' it's not going to work," Mr. Valerius says. Instead, prove that you can work unsupervised, be accountable for goals, and be available for meetings and training.
Some work-at-home wannabes get hired by living in an employer's target region. American Express has identified certain areas of the country for hiring at-home travel agents, including Nashville and parts of Texas, says Christine Anderson, a vice president, human resources, and plans to expand into other regions in 2008. Thus Monica Andrews, who formerly ran her own travel agency, was able to hire on with AmEx last year as a Cedar Park, Texas-based telecommuter.
Capgemini, a Paris-based consulting firm, sometimes hires telecommuters in areas where it has clients but no offices, such as Minneapolis, Denver and parts of Texas.
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A rephrase from Cao Cao, ancient Chinese strategist "If you wait long enough, opportunities appear. "