Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Federal Telework Act Passes

The good news is that the federal telework act finally passed the house last week. Since the senate had already passed it, all it needs is a little signature from the President, and then all your federal teleworking dreams will come true.

Release the unicorns.

Okay, maybe it's not quite that glorious yet, but the federal telework act does provide some incentives for government agencies to promote and support telecommuting. And sometimes just saying it's okay is a big step forward.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Free Videochat Apps Reviewed

One of the most important tools any shut-in has is her videochat. It makes a huge difference when your colleagues see you and more importantly when you see them. Having easy to use tools that don't take a lot of special gear, networks, set up, or technical acumen to use is absolutely essential to a successful telecommuting program.

Stella has struggled on and off with her video conferencing tools. I've slogged along with Skype (even though it when through periods of time when it stopped wanting to drive my camera), I've tried Oovoo and Yugma (not good options because they require so much account set up on the part of your partner), there's WebEx, and my beloved GoToMeeting is promising HD videoconferencing at some point "soon". Yay.

If you're weighing your free options, the nice people at Gizmodo have a good test drive of Google, Skype, and iChat. Check it out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Filling Your Talent Gaps with Telecommuters

We all know that there are a lot of unemployed people in this country. Tons of qualified folks are actively looking for work and would be really grateful to get a job. But there are also lots of jobs in places that go unfilled. Maybe you have somewhat lower-level programming jobs in a big expensive metropolitan area - those kinds of jobs typically don't come with relocation reimbursement, so after you've hired all the entry level programmers around you, what can you as an employer do to fill your talent gap?

Maybe you need to open your mind to telecommuting. Once you give up on the idea that all your little worker bees have to actually be in your hive, you suddenly have an enormous pool of talent to choose from. This article from the New York Times goes into more detail, but don't make your people commute between two cities or choose between their families and their jobs. Telecommuting lets you hire outside your metro area and not destroy people's lives by making them relocate.

You already have your remote working systems in place, so why not harness them to get the best talent you can, irrespective of where that talent might have a hard-to-sell house that's underwater on its mortgage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Small Changes to Routine

Sometimes you can shake up your day's work just by making a small change to your routine. Maybe you change the order you do the first things you do in the office - instead of opening email first, you do the other data chores first, or maybe you get up a half hour earlier or later. Maybe it's changing the music or radio choices you make, or eating after you do some task first thing.

Whatever it is, I find that making tiny changes to how I do the things I routinely do can cause me to feel very differently about how my day is starting. Whether it's actually more productive,  I don't know. But try shaking it up today.