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The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting - As Seen Through The Eyes of a Seasoned Telecommuter

Janelle Delacorte has been happily answering calls for the Home Shopping Network and various infomercials since November 2004.

Several nights out of the week she tucks the kids in to bed, turns around, takes 20 or so odd steps, and arrives at the office. In her pajama's, no less.

Janelle is a telecommuter.

According to the 2004 ITAC American Interactive Consumer Survey, she's one of 24.1 million people who is employed by a company, and works from home. And as you can imagine, she loves her job.

In a recent interview she confided with me about the pro's and con's of telecommuting.

Pro's:

  • Working at home - especially if you have children. Janelle has a 1 and 3 year old. Having the kids at home with her has saved their family tens of thousands of dollars in day care costs.

    "I was a latch key kid growing up, and that's not something I wanted for my children," she says. "By working at home I've been able to see them pass all of their major milestones, and I'm very grateful for that."

  • Being able to choose your own hours.The company Janelle works for routes calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even better, she can work in 30 minute increments, not a straight 8 hour shift as you would in a traditional office.

    This enables her to work while the kids are asleep. And even if she wants to squeeze in a 1/2 hour during their nap time, she can do so.

  • Not having to commute.Los Angeles - where Janelle lives - has the worst rush hour traffic in the United States, according to the American Automobile Association. Not to mention some of the highest gas prices.

    Janelle's family has saved over $200 dollars a month by eliminating her daily commute to the office.

  • Not having to invest in office attire.With two toddler age children, and a new car, Janelle's family expenses expanded dramatically in the past 3 years. However with a cut in certain expenses, like office clothes, they've been able to allocate that money to their newest bills, without feeling overwhelmed.

Con's:

  • Voice strain.If you're not accustomed to talking continuously for long periods of time, you might find your throat hurting for the first week or so until your body adapts.

    "When I began answering calls for the infomercial people I had to read a relatively long script, depending on the product being sold. Those first few days were murder on my throat," says Janelle.

    Her solution was to keep a warm cup of tea nearby, as well as a glass of room temperature water with lemon.

    "It's very important to keep your throat hydrated with the right things, or you'll lose your steam very early on," she advises.

  • The pay can be volatile for those who are new to the game. Janelle get's paid anywhere from $.17-$.27 per minute when she's on the phone with a customer. So if you choose a slow period, you could literally make less than a dollar an hour.

    "When I first started with HSN I would have really busy times when I'd be on the phone for almost the entire hour. Then there would be times when the phone would ring 1 or 2 times," she says.

    "Now before I book my hours I look at what's going to be selling during that time frame. Some items just attract a lot more buyers. So I schedule my work time around those hot sellers, and my checks have been getting consistently better."

    She advises workers in her field to keep a diary of what's selling when they work, so they'll know where the most calls come from.

  • Not having a separate worklife away from home.Janelle says she sometimes misses the adult companionship and change of pace that an outside office provides.

    "Yes, I sometimes long for a little watercooler banter," she laughs. "But when I can roll out of bed, put on my headset and start work anytime of the day or night, I realize that I still have one of the best jobs in the world."

Alexis Dawes is the author of "The Telecommuter Job Report," a quarterly updated e-report that highlights companies hiring telecommuters on a regular basis, and interviews with real, working telecommuters. You may get more information about this report at (http://www.TelecommuterJobReport.com).


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