Tejas Securities Group and Others Offer Insight on Why Telecommuting Doesn’t Fit Every Business Mode

From: Tejas Securities
Published: Fri Oct 28 2005

Background of Telecommuting

The term telecommuting was first termed by NASA scientist, Jack Nilles while working on satellite communication projects in 1973. Nilles had become tired of spending great lengths of time in Los Angeles traffic. He felt it would be beneficial to both employees and employers to transport work rather than individuals on a regular basis. "By 1990, telecommuting projects were underway in a number of companies and governmental agencies in the U.S." By 2004, 44.4 million individuals joined telecommuting. While 24.1 million of these telecommuters were employed by companies, approximately 20.3 million were self employed. There are many reasons that can be attributed to the growing popularity of telecommuting, such as advances in technology and changing family roles. Telecommuting takes drive-time out of the equation and helps the increasing number of single parents juggle home and family responsibilities and does the same for families in which both parents work, a group whose figures are also on the rise.

But while telecommuting is a growing trend that works for many businesses, there are some, like investment trading firms like Tejas Securities Group, Inc, where the work situation doesn’t lend itself to telecommuting. Let’s explore how telecommuting does and doesn’t work now that it’s been an option for about 15 years.

Careers Compatible with Telecommuting

Although the idea of telecommuting may appeal to individuals in a wide variety of careers, some jobs are much more conducive to telecommuting. Telecommuting is quite effective for individuals who spend the majority of their professional hours working alone. This work typically includes writing reports, researching, working on project proposals, and inputting data. This group includes; programmers, graphic artists, architects, accountants, engineers, researchers, writers, and non-retail sales people. The majority of individuals in these positions telecommute only part-time. Typically three days are spent in a central office each week. Office time is often reserved for face to face meetings, team sessions, and the use of specialized equipment.

"Most of the writers, artists and even the people on the "business" side of ad agencies spend some portion of their work time working from home," said Marc Engelsman, Account Director with Medicus, a NYC-based ad agency. "It gives people the opportunity to free themselves up so they can concentrate on creating in a more relaxed atmosphere than they’d have in a busy office."

Advantages for Employees

One of the most appealing aspects of telecommuting is the time that is saved by eliminating the commute to work. The time that is typically reserved for commuting can be used to get an earlier start on work, sleep longer, spend time with family and friends, or for other hobbies and activities. Individuals with physical challenges may especially benefit from time and effort spent on not spent on commuting and may be more comfortable working from their homes. In addition to time saved on commuting, telecommuters are also able to create flexible schedules. Their working time is not constrained to the typical eight hour day. Many telecommuters also report less stress than employees in the traditional office setting.

Whether the employee uses public transportation or drives, the elimination of commuting will save money as well. Car owners will save money on gasoline, oil, maintenance, and parking. Telecommuters are also able to eliminate the expenses of business attire, going out to eat during work hours, and childcare. Home-based business owners benefit from additional financial savings as well. These entrepreneurs save money on rent, start up costs, and can take advantage of work related tax breaks (e.g., phone bill, internet bill).

Advantages for Employers

Due to the popularity of telecommuting, many employers utilize this option as a recruitment tool and as a result may attract a larger number of qualified candidates. Companies receive financial benefits from telecommuting as well. Even if companies only offer part-time telecommuting, offices can be smaller and less costly. Additional benefits for employers include, employees taking less sick days, willing to work longer hours, feeling more rested and relaxed, and being outside the "normal" work day.

Telecommuting Not for Everyone
Despite the numerous benefits, some jobs simply cannot be done from home. Telecommuting can create difficulties in monitoring progress on projects and other tasks. Employers may also have concerns over security issues. Employees may not be installing appropriate anti-virus software or may be letting others utilize their computer. And in some cases, the high need for real-time, face to face communications mandates that the employees are physically together. Take for example Tejas Securities Group, Inc., a full-service broker/dealer and investment banking firm. "In our business, real-time, face-to-face interaction with our traders on the desk and our sales representatives on the floor is critical. We do not deal in a static environment of information. Markets are dynamic, moving up and down in seconds. Timing can be the difference between success and failure," said Craig Biddle, Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Tejas Securities Group, Inc. "In addition, there are certain intangible influences that take place on our trading floor that cannot be recreated outside the office. It's important to "be there", allowing your senses to help guide you to make the right decisions on behalf of your clients. Eye contact, tone of voice, momentum can all be extremely important in successful execution".
And sometimes the job could be performed in a home environment, but it just doesn’t work for the individual. Some people who have tried to work at home have found themselves faced with family interruptions, non-business phone calls, unannounced visitors, and the lure of "just throwing in some laundry" or having the TV on for background noise, only to have their attention diverted by what’s on the screen. Many telecommuters also fail to provide themselves with adequate work space. Without having a separate area for materials and equipment, privacy and protection is unlikely to occur. Another obstacle for telecommuters is finding appropriate places to meet with clients. If the meeting occurs in the telecommuter’s home, it may seem unprofessional. Other options, such as restaurants and coffee shops do not offer privacy that is often needed.
Although working from home provides employees with many comforts not available in the office, many individuals begin to feel isolated. While they can call, email or IM their colleagues, they miss the face to face interaction. Telecommuters can also become easily consumed with work because they are always physically near their work space.

For all of these reasons, even the most diligent employees may find it impossible to make working at home work for them.

Alternatives to Telecommuting

Employers and employees who are searching for the benefits of both a traditional office environment and working from home may be interested in the "workclub" model. These facilities would allow employees "to meet with a client or colleague in a conference area, make phone calls in private booths, have support staff make copies, overnight a package or get a laptop repaired." Several differentiated work areas are also provided based on the employees’ level of need for privacy and quiet. Members are also permitted to bring dogs (after being screened) and children. Ideally, such workclubs should be located in both urban and suburban areas. Therefore, a large number of employees could rely on this service. Although this work model would eliminate some of the obstacles associated with telecommuting certain companies may still find that efficiency is best attained in a traditional office setting.

Company Information
Tejas Securities Group, Inc., a Texas corporation ("Tejas Securities"), is a wholly owned subsidiary and a primary business operating unit of Tejas Incorporated, a publicly traded financial services company. Tejas Securities is a full service brokerage and investment banking firm that focuses on the following: (i) proprietary research on distressed debt and special situation securities, (ii) trading and other brokerage services to value-based institutional and retail investors active in fixed income and equity instruments, and (iii) corporate finance and strategic advisory services to middle-market companies within our target industries. To learn more about Tejas Securities, please visit the Company’s web site at http://www.tejassec.com.

R.L. Fielding Bio

R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.

This article is copyrighted by Tejas Securities Groups, Inc. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at tejas@digitalbrandexpressions.com.
Company: Tejas Securities
Contact Name: R.L. Fielding
Contact Email: rmermelstein@digitalbrandexpressions.com
Contact Phone: 555-555-5555

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