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Suspicion, mistrust are the battles telecommuters face

We spend the day napping.

Watching TV.

Partying with our pants off!

None of the above is true. I know, I know … some of you got your hopes up and were ready to go demand the right to work from home.

But no, I’ll let you in on a tiny little secret: Telecommuters work. They work hard. They are dedicated to their chosen craft and they are determined to make remote work a success.

Because it’s better than the alternative, going to the office and facing the distractions of meetings and managers. Because it’s better than dreading the commute, cursing at every red light and pounding the steering wheel during traffic jams. Because it’s better than …

And yet, we are often confronted with suspicion and mistrust. Are you actually doing the work? Are you really putting the time in?

Both my boyfriend and I are remote workers. He is a full-time telecommuter; I work from home part time.

There are days he’ll go into his office, throw on his headset and not be seen until eight hours later. Me? I’m constantly apologizing to the dog … just one more hour, buddy, and then we’ll go for a walk.

One more hour.

dog walk telecommuters

Trust me, it’s tough to resist that face.

We know we are lucky to work from home, but we also know some of our colleagues (we don’t work for the same company, by the way) figure we’re just slacking off.

It’s a battle many telecommuters face. You are not alone, my dear, sweet virtual worker. Not alone at all.

We feel your pain!

A common thread for telecommuters

And so does Brie Weiler Reynolds, the online content director for FlexJobs. She works from home, too, and recognized the benefits, as she noted in her recent piece for, What I Really Do When I Work from Home.

“When people hear I work from home,” she writes, “they think I must be getting away with something.

“After all, my manager can’t actually see me working, so how can I prove that I am? It’s kind of like asking if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, will it still be a productive employee?”

Since we’re seen and not heard, nothing is getting done.

“As somebody who is not only a telecommuter, but also manages a team of seven telecommuters,” she adds, “I can tell you from both perspectives that, yes, people who work from home are working.”

The studies have shown office distractions are far more intrusive than home-style distractions; they’ve shown telecommuters are not only productive, but they also contribute higher quality work; and they’ve shown we’re more engaged with our work and our companies.

And then there are all the anecdotal stories.

The United Kingdom division of Plantronics—the company that makes those awesome headsets we use during conference calls and web conferences—offers remote work as an option for its entire workforce.

Managing director UK and Ireland Paul Clark tells The Guardian technology and communications tools allow his telecommuters to work collaboratively and efficiently.

“We have experienced first-hand how smarter working schemes can improve a business’ daily operations and help boost overall job satisfaction,” Clark says. “We have developed a fully flexible work environment that helped drive up efficiency and productivity. Just six months after the initiative was put into place, employee satisfaction rose from 61% to 85%.”

It’s difficult to argue with evidence, but many well.

Telecommuters, you will face suspicion and mistrust, whether by your manager, your co-workers or folks on the street who hear you work from home and say “tickety-boo, look at you, it’s early retirement.”

All we can do is keep our heads up … er, down … and work hard, continuing to prove the studies and anecdotes correct.

Maybe we should think of ourselves as trailblazers, helping to move the workforce into a new era!

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