Telecommute (verb): to work from home, communicating with a central workplace using equipment such as telephones, fax machines, and modems.
Telecommute; the word sounds as though it opposes the freedom that a freelance writing life should bring, and is therefore in no way desirable. But in an age when technology and e-commerce is being embraced by so many organisations, the word ‘telecommute’ has come to represent the key to a door of opportunity for freelance writers, more than any other word in the English dictionary before it.
But like anything else in this world that sounds good, how much of that should be taken with a pinch of salt? Everything has a cost, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons, from a freelance writer’s perspective, of telecommuting.
Look at the word closely, and immediately you will begin to see what it has going for it. Tele – commute: the ability to “commute” anywhere in the world, without actually leaving the comfort of your own home. In other words, the world truly is your oyster.
Being able to work for any company, anywhere in the world, opens up opportunities for freelance writers that were never dreamt of prior to the birth of the Internet. Effectively, it means that there are no longer any barriers to who can work for whom, and thanks to e-mail, communication between the employer and the employee is faster than it has ever been.
Telecommuting cuts out the need for work permits, and gives employers a much wider scope to choose from, as they are no longer restricted geographically over whom they hire. Skill and talent alone, can once again be a major factor.
Travel and the Environment
Not owning a car – for whatever reason – is no longer a barrier to being able to earn money. As a telecommuter, the only thing you need to get started is a PC, an Internet connection, a desk, a chair, and the motivation.
If you are a believer in environmental causes, then telecommuting can allow you to earn while doing your bit for the environment. Global warming is a benefactor of telecommuting!
Determine Your Own Schedule
Freelance writing already allows you to determine your own working schedule. In the world of telecommuting, there is no such thing as 9 to 5. If you have a young family this can be of huge benefit, in that you can organise work around child care requirements, and shopping trips to purchase necessities.
It’s also a huge benefit when dealing with companies on the other side of the world. For example, if a freelance writer in the U.K. gets contracted to a company in California, the time difference is negated because he can keep in touch through email.
Telecommuting means working from home can be as flexible as the freelance writer desires, but it also means the more jobs he gets from overseas, the more he can feel alienated on a much grander scale.
We all know that writing is a solitary business, but when you are telecommuting on a global scale, the feeling that your home office is a small place to work is magnified to a much greater extent. It is therefore vital for all telecommuters to make sure they get plenty of vacation time and contact with the outside world. Sanity is a treasured commodity.
Dealing with clients in a telecommuting situation, also puts the freelance writer at risk of severe frustration if they are required to work with other writers on a project, especially if they are also spread around the world.
Having no face to face contact with your client or team can often make the freelance writer feel vulnerable, because without the personal aspect, one mistake could be enough to see you dropped at the click of a button.
Being on the other side of the planet to your client also means that although email is generally fast and reliable, there is always the scope that emails may be misinterpreted. For example, while you could read your brief in the wrong way and submit the wrong article, it also means your client may take something you say in entirely the wrong way, and end up being offended. Neither scenario is good if a long-term working relationship is at stake.
A freelance writer telecommuting for an overseas company that pays in a currency weaker than their home country, can be prone to feeling that money is being lost.
For example, a freelance writer in the U.K. who earns $200 USD for a commissioned article, will receive around £100 at the current exchange rate. It is therefore important to ensure you feel you are being paid fairly for the work you are required to submit.
Telecommuting means there is a heavy reliance placed on technology for all manners of things. These can range from merely keeping in touch with a client, to making submissions, look for work, and accepting payment. Suffer a PC crash or lose your interconnection, and you may as well be sitting on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
It is therefore vital that every telecommuter serious about their business, takes all precautions necessary to keep their PC and peripherals fully protected.
The most vital things to remember are to have sufficient anti-virus protection software, good malware and adware scanning and removal software, a suitable firewall installation, and to take regular backups of all your data and software. It might also be a good measure to ensure your PC is regularly maintained, especially the hard drive, and that you never forget to pay your ISP bills.
The decision to work in a telecommuting capacity can open doors to the most varied and exciting work a freelance writer can possibly imagine. Try it out; if you don’t like it, it costs nothing to stop – possibly the final pro of telecommuting.