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    15 Replies Latest reply on May 19, 2009 9:15 PM by fiorza

    So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!

    batchblue Wayfarer
      Hello - I'm putting together a presentation for small business owners on telecommuting/establishing virtual offices and would love to get feedback on if folks are doing this, what are the benefits and drawbacks you're experiencing, and if there is any specific software or tools you're using to help you or your employees work from home. All feedback welcome - thanks much!
        • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Batchblue, If you go and google "Telecommuting" you will get great info for your presentation.
          There is the TELEWORK COALITION which has a 3 page executive summary that should help.
          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
            DomainDiva Ranger
            I manage my technology startup from everywhere using BaseCamp. The whole team from code to design, to legal and accounting as well as board advisors have access to the company board and projects to keep up with what is happening.
            I also post 'info bursts' to the group at regular intervals with articles about technology, business applications and other items of interest to what we are doing.

            The number one item has to be an online meeting place, where messages and documents can be posted. BaseCamp also has writeboards and collaborative chat through CampFire. Meetings can be scheduled and everyone can log in and discuss.

            Second is work space. If you have a dog, get the dog a bed in your office. (trust me). Have a large desk, flat workspace and be sure to have a bookcase with an office supplies basket and a file cart close by. Also a 4 gig memory stick so you can take it with you.

            Third you will need cable broadband, DSL or a wireless (protected) network and phone...cell or hard wired.

            Fourth if you are the boss, make sure that your people have the best equipment. Laptops, docking stations, large monitors if needed and the up to date software. Never have an employee telecommuting using their own computer equipment and software.

            I like the at home office. I can stay up as late as I wish to and work.

            My husband stays home and trades all day. there are two dog beds in the office and he has his computer/monitor set up on a server rack/desk we found in the trash from a company going out of business. He has two hard drives, two 22 HD monitors and a 20" Sony TV for CNBC all day.

            MOST IMPORTANT: If you are planning on taking the IRS home office deduction be aware that you must not use the equipment for any personal reasons and the space must only be used for business (dogs excepted). If the IRS does audit you for the home office the first thing they will check will be your computer hard drive.
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              The primary benefits for us are lower costs (gas, parking), more time (no commute), and overall better productivity. Employees can be better workers, better spouses, better parents, (better dog owners) -- better at everything because they are positioned to effectively manage all aspects of their lives.

              The disadvantages are that not every employee has the self discipline to work at home, and it often takes a crisis for that to become evident to managers. Related to that, managing a virtual team is significantly more difficult than managing a group with whom you have daily face-to-face interaction. Finally, the underlying technologies that support group collaboration become essential for telecommuters, so when these technologies are unavailable to one or more of the principal players for some reason, everything sputters. That's my biggest complaint -- it seems like the past two years have been brutal in terms of natural and manmade problems that effectively severed our technology links to one another at crucial times.

              As far as software and tools, I have project teams with several hundred members. Only a few of them work for my firm, with the rest being self-employed specialists or employees of subcontractors in a variety of locations. Therefore, the technology they have available is owned and controlled by someone other than me. While I'd love it if they all had and used something like BaseCamp with CampFire, I can't require them to pay $150/month to license it, nor can I demand that the ones who still have Win95 on some of their desktops get up to speed. Consequently, I tend to rely heavily on Microsoft and Adobe applications (not because they are the best solutions, but because they offer the least expensive and most readily available ways to share information and collaborate on-line across the mix of platforms and operating systems that I encounter).

              Hope this feedback is helpful.
              • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                Ed O'Gee Adventurer
                I run my business successfully out of my home and the benefits to me are:

                1. Low overhead - when I am out of the office I am on site with clients so no need for expensive office space
                2. No communiting cost - unless you count the energy of walking down a flight of stairs and a short hallway to my home office.
                3. More time with my family, almost forces me to structure my day so that I have time to spend with the family
                • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                  LUCKIEST Guide
                  Batchblue, Read Thursday Wall Street Journal, Personal Journal Section:
                  Good News For Professionals Who Want to Work at Home.
                  This article could help your presentation (if it not too late)
                  Again, LUCKIEST
                  • Home based since 1984
                    WayneSGA Newbie

                    To work effectively virtually you need to have the right electronic environment - the right collaboration tools. The choice is to select each tool independent of each other or select one integrated platform so you all can work together seamlessly. If you add up the costs to try to accomplish this independtly you will spend an enormous amount of time and money trying to put the pieces together. As your business grows technology will be a constant pain point.

                    Some components to think about (not in any particular order):

                    1. fast Internet access (DSL/Cable)
                    2. a well set up computer with an image backup in case of corruption or virus. (e.g., Acronis Image software)
                    3. e-mail (gmail, outlook, notes, etc.)
                    4. personal productivity tools (spreadsheet, word processor, presentation software - Office)
                    5. accounting software (quickbooks pro)
                    6. backup software (burn to dvd, backup exec, etc.)
                    7. customer relationship management (contact management, ACT, etc.)
                    8. time managment software
                    9. shared calendar
                    10. expense reporting
                    11. project management software
                    12. instant messaging (AIM, msn messenger, sametime, etc.)
                    13. web conferencing (gotomeeting, sametime, etc.)
                    14. antivirus, anti-everything software (symantec, mcafe, etc.)
                    15. website hosting and development and email routing (ISP)
                    16. website content management, integration with internal operations and backup
                    17. email anti-spam (e.g. postini)
                    18. discussion/collaboration software (forums, lotus notes)
                    19. laptop encryption software (vista ultimate, lotus notes)
                    20. document management/sharing (sharepoint, lotus notes)


                    Following is synopsis of how we accomplish this and it's been so successful we help other firms do the same.

                    In 1993, we converted all operations to using Lotus Notes as a base. We built on that foundation an entire suite of collaboration solutions: crm, project management, time management, etc. etc. etc. We even backup quickbooks pro to a Notes database. The advantage over all other technologies? Replication. All of our information replicates to multiple servers and clients in multiple locations. That's automatic backup and the ability to share anything/everything. Oh, our website is built 100% on Notes. Check it out


                    When a hard disk dies it's not a big deal. We replace the unit, install Lotus Notes and replicate the databases from any server and back up and running. Virtually no information lost.


                    Now for the good stuff. You can replicate locally and work locally. This means we were productive back in the mid-90's even though we had to use the old dial-up technology. We can work on airplanes then replicate when you arrive at the hotel.


                    There's more - design of the databases replicates transparently. This means you don't need to install updates to any application. New field for the CRM? Sure...done and replicates to everyone, whether two employees or thousands.


                    Oh...Notes has a full mail system built in and free. Ever hear of a virus for Lotus Notes? Nope. Notes is one of the most secure environments there is on the planet. And when you replicate/synchronize locally all information is automatically encrypted.


                    Want more? How about integrated web conferencing and instant messaging - all encrypted and secure.


                    Say goodbye to the thousands of folders you have in your mail file and shared drives you use to store Office files. You can store and manage it all in the applications.

                    You want a solution which will scale as your business grows. Notes can be used by two people or 200,000.


                    What's the price? If your firm is 1,000 employees or less (I'm sure most here fit that category), it's $103/person. IBM is giving it away to the small business.
                    • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                      BDS INC Adventurer

                      Money Savings
                      Time Savings
                      Quality of Life
                      Personal Tax Benefits



                      Difficulty in meeting clients at home office
                      Lack of business space clarity
                      • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                        majones Wayfarer
                        So many options for working online and virtualizing a company... our organization works with thousands of companies who need or want to virtualize for a variety of reasons.

                        Depending on the specific requirements, there are TONS of options available. It really depends on how much or how little you intend to centrally manage. For example, you could offer messaging, calendaring and basic tools like that by using Google Apps or Microsoft Live services.

                        There are a large number of companies providing, for example, CRM as an online application. Most companies require more than just CRM, however, so this is often not a means to totally virtualize the organization.

                        For businesses who need total IT capability, but don't necessarily want the tech management responsibility, outsourced and hosted desktop services may be the ticket.

                        One company ( is offers total virtual desktop services for businesses. Subscribers can have a complete Windows desktop (hosted) with all desktop and network applications hosted and managed by the service provider. This company also is licensed by Intuit to host the QuickBooks products, so you can have QuickBooks Pro, Premier or Enterprise with the virtual desktop.

                        The key in virtualizing any business is to ensure that all participants know and understand their jobs, know what is required of them, have the tools to do their job, and have a means to collaborate and get information when it is required. Remember that virtualizing a company doesn't mean that people don't see each other and interact. It just means they don't have to be in the same room to do it.
                        • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                          seetumail Newbie
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                          • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                            seetumail Newbie
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                            • Re: So you want to work from home?  Telecommuting tips needed!
                              fiorza Newbie
                              Skype video chatting is a great way to stay in touch with your colleagues while working from home. It is free, realiable, and easy to install. If your computer doesn't have a web camera and microphone, then consider one of the many affordable webcam/microphone combinations (I like the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000). I much prefer Skype to telephone calls because of the video element and the fact that my hands are free on calls, which allows me to keep working!

                              Fiorza Luxe