Newspapers where Anita’s column has appeared:

Tucson Citizen

The Seattle Times

The Palm Springs Desert Sun

Norwich Bulletin

Florida Today

Fort Myers News-Press

Pensacola News Journal

Pacific Daily News (Guam)

Honolulu Advertiser

Rockford Register Start

Indianapolis Star

The Des Moines Register

The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

The (Shreveport, La.) Times

Chicago Sun-Times

Battle Creek Enquirer

The Detroit Free Press

St. Cloud Times

The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger

The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader

Reno Gazette-Journal

Asbury (N.J.) Park-Press

Bridgewater (N.J.) Courier-News

Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post

East Brunswick, N.J.

Morristown Daily Record

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Elmira Star-Gazette

The Ithaca Journal

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Salt Lake Tribune

Wausau Daily Herald

Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Nashville Tennessean

Green Bay Press-Gazette

Army Times

Navy Times

Air Force Times

Marine Corp Times

The Olympian

Online sites that have carried Anita’s column:

AOL Jobs

California Job Journal

Syndicated Column

Anita Bruzzese’s “On the Job” column is featured in dozens of newspapers and Web sites every week, with a readership of more than eight million.

Lessons for telecommuters
include planning, commitment

By Anita Bruzzese

No matter what our job, most of us work at home at least some of the time these days. Whether it’s sending e-mails from the home computer, having a phone conference with clients halfway around the world or just reading industry materials, many of us have taken our work home with us at one time or another.

At the same time, however, many employers balk at the idea of employees working at home all the time. Whether it’s some antiquated notion that employees can’t possibly be working if they’re not physically in a cubicle at work or the fact that managers may favor employees who are in the office more, telecommuting often fails for some very simple reasons.

Nancy DeLay, an organizational psychologist and telecommuting expert at Kenexa, says that one of the biggest problems is that employees themselves don’t set up their home-based work to be successful.

“I think the biggest mistake is that employees don’t personally define their boundaries – both physical and psychological – while working at home,” she says. “You’ve got to have a dedicated space that not only helps others recognize that you’re working, but you’ve also got to be able to walk through a door at home and know that it’s time to put your work hat on.”

Further leading to problems is the fact that those who work from home also fail to set up boundaries regarding their work schedules, DeLay says. Specifically, telecommuters may check their work e-mail at midnight, or even take work on vacations. “It can become very difficult to separate the work life and the private life,” she says, adding that such work habits can quickly lead to burnout.

DeLay also argues that telecommuting can fail if not fully supported from the top down. That means that if a company says it supports employees working from home, then the CEO needs to make sure that direct supervisors are following through with that support.

“You shouldn’t be managing someone who telecommutes differently than any other employee,” DeLay says. “You should be looking at productivity, not who is in the office every day. Mid-level managers can very subtly kill the program if there isn’t good support.”

DeLay also notes another problem that plagues telecommuters: isolation. Workers who labor from home can become so distant from co-workers and bosses that their ability to move up may be hampered.

That’s why it’s important, she says, to clearly define how the telecommuting arrangement will work so that both the employee and the employer benefit. She suggests:

“Really, the bottom line is that in order for telecommuting to be truly successful, it must become part of the fabric of the corporate culture,” she says. “It must just be considered a way that you do business.”

Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy…and How to Avoid Them,” (Perigee). Write to her c/o: Business Editor, Gannett News Service, 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, Va. 22107. For a reply, include an SASE.

Publishing inquiries

To inquire about publishing (in print or online) one of Anita’s “On the Job” columns, e-mail Anita Bruzzese at

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