Must you still go to the office? A case for teleworking in the Caribbean

Is your commute time to the office longer than 30 minutes outside of rush hour traffic? Do you maintain weekday accommodations to reduce your commute time to and from work?  Do you find yourself either getting to the office earlier than necessary or staying at work later than you should just to beat the traffic? This post examines some of the merits and challenges of teleworking.

In the Caribbean region, many of us experience considerable challenges to get to work on time. For most of us, it is traffic congestion, which we might try to minimise by leaving home even earlier in the mornings and/or staying at the office later in the evenings. For others, whose primary residence might be an appreciable distance away, they might secure secondary accommodations closer to work, which they use during the work week. These and other similar situations highlight the fact that the daily commute to and from work often consumes significant portions of our time and money, and might not necessarily be efficient or productive.

“Teleworking”, which is also referred to as “telecommuting”, “remote work”, “virtual work”, “flexible workplace” and “mobile work”, is an arrangement where employees work from home for either a portion or all of a work week, but maintain contact with their offices via electronic means. It is rarely used exclusively. Regular face-to-face meetings are usually scheduled.

Policymakers across the region have bandied about the concept of teleworking since the late 1990s/early 2000s. It was seen as natural progression of liberalisation and competition in the telecoms sector. However, over a decade later, teleworking is rarely an option available to employees in the region, but there are a number of benefits that can be realised.

Increased productivity. When teleworking arrangements are established, employee productivity can increase. Employees are less distracted by office commotion and interruptions. They can also be more rested and less stressed, since there is no commute time on the days they are working from home.

Reduced expenses. This is benefit to both employer and employee. With regard to the employer, securing and maintaining sufficient office space for all of its employees is a considerable ongoing expense. Depending on the teleworking arrangement that is established, an organisation may permanently decrease the size its accommodations, which in turn could reduce its operating expenses. With regard to the worker, employers rarely compensate their staff for transportation costs to get to the office where they are based. Employees usually foot those expenses out of their earnings. With teleworking, some savings could be realised that could be put towards other personal needs. – Read More

  • Less distracted by office commotion but more distracted by FB!!

    Possibly this may work for an older generation of worker given a computer to do work at home, but a younger set Generation Y or Millennial [ages 18 to 28] may have difficulty separating their Work lives from the Social Networking craze of FB and Twitter.

    Defiantly true, though, about the saving on transportation. Also will save on office space!

    But as an employee see how easy it is to work in this “tele-commuting” environment, employers will soon find more people willing to forego formal employment and set up their own home office and do work at home. In that distant future, five years from now when the Islandwide Fiber Optic Network being built by the LIME and FLOW.

    The project is GOJ funded by the UAFCL (Universal Access Fund Company Limited) which are taxes collected from the Telecom Providers and will make 100MBps Fiber optic backhaul connectivity available to 300 schools – and their surrounding communities. Kudos to Senator Daryl Vaz, Minister of Information:

    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110407/lead/lead2.html

    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/543-million-Internet-plan_8636362

    Coupled with the decreasing costs of internet access and falling PC prices due to Americans ditching Laptops and PC for tablets, “tele-commuting” may not only be Jamaica inevitable future, but also may end up competing with traditional Brick-and-mortar businesses in wooing graduates to work for them.

    This as fellow entrepreneurial-minded graduates may create their own start-ups that will attract fellow graduates to work in an environment that is not as rigid as the traditional Brick-and-mortar businesses, yet giving them a taste of being in charge of a company and having decision making abilities.

    Eventually, the brick-and-mortar companies may be forced to go that route if they wish to even attract workers in the future.

    As soon as the young upstarts of the start-up in this future Jamaican workplace can keep Social Networking out of their work lives!!!

    Looks like I may have to write a blog post or article on this!!!

  • I love article, it is a passion of mine that has just been rekindled in a serious way. I am going to be proactively communicating with my clients this is the way I work.

    On the Marco scale i think our Caribbean community should really push this to its limit. Because we live in small societies we have the thinking that. We are small so we can meet physically. It might be less than a 1 hr 1/2 commute in a larger city, but the 15 – 30 mins between various meetings add up. Also all the vehicles in our countries make us buy more oil which doesn’t help our economy.

    I think we might want to use or size to solve the transportation problem once and for all and use the bare minimum as it relates to oil. We can reduce or imports and blah blah blah. Let me stop there, I might have to write a blog post of my own 🙂

    Thanks for this Michele