By Robert DiGiacomo
Telecommuting isn't just appealing because it allows you to work in your pajamas, it can also be a sign of how much your company respects your abilities and is willing to pay you. Research from Payscale.com shows full-time workers who telecommute in more than a dozen professions, including Web developer, financial analyst and PR specialist, earn as much as 20 percent more on average than those who travel to an office every day.
"What we're seeing is the kind of employee who is extended this benefit seems to be valued by their employer more than the typical worker," says Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at Payscale.com.
While it may not be the case for every job, PayScale's research shows that some salaries are higher among those who can work from home and choose their own hours. For example, the median, national salary for a marketing coordinator who works only in an office is $42,500 per year. By comparison, one who telecommutes earns $50,300 per year, according to PayScale. That's a 16 percent difference in pay. Data analyst, designers and others show similar comparisons.
Why the Difference in Pay?
This uptick in wages acknowledges greater skills and experience offered by workers with flexible schedules. It is also a reflection of the employer and how much they value a particular skill. If the employer needs the best designers, writers, developers or otherwise, they will give top workers with both higher pay and more flexibility. If they don't, they won't.
"Microsoft will likely offer better pay and more flexibility to a technical writer than a Detroit auto maker will. Microsoft likely needs top technical writers more than auto makers do," says Lee.
Advice on Flexibility
What is the lesson? If you can talk your employer into allowing you set your own hours and location, you're likely a top performer who is paid more than your peers already. You don't need to take a pay cut to get control over your schedule.
Once you make a deal with your boss, here is some advice for you from those who are enjoying the "pajamas and favorite mug" version of a working day already.
Erika Richards – Executive
Beat the traffic. An executive with a study abroad organization, Erica Richards rarely has to worry about beating the traffic on the way to work. Her "commute" requires a quick trip down stairs. "You save on commuting costs and time and you save on wardrobe. You're not expected to be dressed to the nines every day," Richards says.
Communicate with care. Since Richards works for a multicultural organization with locations in London, Madrid and Amman, she has to be very clear with her input during conference calls and in emails. Cues from facial expressions and body posture are missing. "I try to make my voice heard, but because there are more [employees] over there, it can be a challenge," she says.
Danny Bracco – Writer
Maintain regular hours. Danny Bracco, who telecommutes from his San Francisco apartment to a marketing agency in Southern California, makes sure to separate the office from home. He has a dedicated computer for work that he shuts down at the end of the day, and also has all work calls routed through his office number to his cell phone, so he doesn't have to give out his personal number. "I need to draw the line, or I'm afraid my apartment would just turn into an office," he says.
Bryce Kasuba – Researcher
Get child care. Kasuba and his wife, Terri, a freelance graphic designer who often works from home, always line up childcare in advance. His sons, who are eight and five, know not to disturb him during regular work hours in his third floor attic space. "This isn't an alternative to child care," he says. "Some people don't have a sense of boundaries. You shouldn't be hearing people's kids when you're on a conference call."
Don't sweat the small stuff. While Kasuba sometimes checks his emails after hours, he also keeps work in perspective. "I have a master's in counseling and worked in an ER for two years, so I know nothing's an emergency," he says. "I have a sense of how to triage when it's something important."
Source: All salary data provided by PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual for full-time employees and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.
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