Would you get a divorce in order to telecommute?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Victor1558

COMMENTARY What would you give up in exchange for telecommuting? A new survey by TeamViewer discovered that, among other things, 5 percent of Americans would divorce their spouses if they could telecommute instead.

This is supposed to be shocking and show how much your employees would love to telecommute. But in reality, with today's divorce rate, you could probably get that same 5 percent to divorce if you promised them a $50 gift certificate to Waffle House.

The survey of 2,630 adults found that there are quite a few things that people would be willing to give up in order to forgo the daily commute in favor of working from home:

  • Daily showers: 12 percent
  • Social media: 34 percent
  • Texting: 30 percent
  • Chocolate: 29 percent
  • Smartphone: 25 percent
  • Shopping: 20 percent
  • A salary increase: 17 percent
  • Half of vacation days: 15 percent

Telecommuting is clearly a highly desirable job arrangement. I would certainly hope, for the sake of the rest of the office, that those who are willing to forgo daily showers are telecommuting when they give those up. The people who say they are willing to give up chocolate are lying, but we can't expect everyone to be honest.

I do, however, suspect that given these answers, some people don't quite understand what telecommuting entails. It is still work. You still have to pay for daycare for the little ones. You cannot do household chores during working hours, nor watch your neighbor's kids while she runs to a doctor's appointment. You will have to explain, over and over again, that you are at work, even though you are physically in your home. People who are normally smart will not be able to figure this out and will consider you rude when you don't take personal calls while you are working.

You can, however, throw a batch of laundry in the washing machine, fold socks while on a conference call, accept packages from the UPS guy and don't have to take a vacation day when the plumber is scheduled to come sometime between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Yes, you get to give up the commute, but your work invades your life, as you are always at work. It's more difficult to build relationships with coworkers you never see or a boss you've only met in person once or twice. Bosses still reward "face time," regardless of whether that is more effective or not.

In my experience, the ideal telecommuting situation is part-time: two or three days in the office and two or three days at home. That way you can build relationships with your coworkers and boss, benefit from face time, and still get your dishwasher repaired and lower your commuting stress and costs. 

And -- hopefully -- keep your vacation days and your spouse.

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