Telecommuting sounds great, in theory. Its appeal to the employee is kind of obvious – it saves commuting time and expense, and offers flexibility that can’t be found as easily in an in-office job. Companies with telecommuting employees enjoy benefits too, including access to talent that isn’t locally available and office overhead savings.
However, as many have learned the hard way, not everyone is cut out for a telecommuting position – whether it is a lack of communication skills, self-discipline, or just plain dependability. According to The Intelligent Community, Inc., only about 15 in 100 potential candidates has what it takes to succeed in a telecommuting position. Created to support the Operation Energy Transition, “a movement to move America away from its reliance on foreign energy sources and closer to energy independence,” The Intelligent Community offers a telecommuting certification program to help spread the culture of telecommuting.
The certification program tests job candidates in three levels of competency: basic skills needed for working with remote technologies, worker dependability, and proficiency in a particular skill area. Right now the ICI certification is accepted by several job sites including oDesk.com and tjobs.com as a way for applicants to stand out from the competition.
On the employer side, ICI works with companies to create and implement telecommuting programs. They will evaluate your operational needs and suggest the best technology to use in each situation. While they don’t charge a fee, ICI is compensated by affiliate commissions from the service providers that are selected. Some of their favorites include BlueTie for email, calendar and file sharing, Sightspeed for videoconferencing and GoToMeeting for online meetings. If a company is considering letting some existing employees telecommute, they could send them through the certification process first.
There are industries, especially in the tech sector, already embracing telecommuting and virtual teams. While some industries like construction and medicine may never be a good fit, ICI suggests that some, like law and accounting, are perfectly suited but still need to give it a chance.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com