Telecommuting is on the rise in the United States, and an increasing number of workers have come to expect the options and flexibility it gives them in managing their personal and professional obligations. But not everyone prefers teleworking to being in the office.
Joe Franscella, the director of the cybersecurity marketing and public relations team at Trainer Communications in Pleasanton, Calif., had the option to telecommute several days a month in 2009, when he had a long commute. Although Mr. Franscella says he's highly focused and has no trouble getting work done at home, being in the office "was more about the positive energy that vibrates off of a collaborative staff."
Unlike many parents who find telecommuting gives them more time with their kids, Franscella, who has two young children, found it mostly stressful. When he had a long commute, he worked from home a couple of days a week but disliked it. "I actually chose to move my family closer to my office," he says, "so that I could have greater access to the business environment." Franscella's commute now is about five minutes. He says working from the office is actually better for his family's health and welfare. If his children know he's at home behind a closed door working, "it is stressful for them; they want to be near me but know they can't," he says. "If I am at work and not at home, they don't focus on me. This is easier on me and them, as I'm not worried about their stress and they are not worried about getting my attention."
Recently Franscella had to work later than usual, so rather than leave work at 5:30, as usual, he stayed late, until 7:30. He was home within 10 minutes, and was able to "completely concentrate on the family and kids through bedtime and homework. Had I chosen to leave at 5:30 and bring work home with me for later, I would have been distracted until I could refocus on work, which would have interfered with the time with my family," he says. "In this case having a work and personal policy of 'office only' work really allowed me to strike a balance."
Although Franscella likes the work-life separation, he believes telecommuting can be done successfully, depending on the person and the job. "Someone working on tasks that require little to no collaboration or team effort could likely accomplish a lot on their own, regardless of where they are located," he says. "In my business, collaboration and face-to-face interactions are key to problem solving, idea generation, and fast action."