Telecommuting has become popular now that digital communication is inexpensive, seamless and easy to use. Although engineering is often a hands-on job, it is possible to telecommute and still do your engineering job effectively as long as you have access to the right tools. If you’re still going into the office every day, propose a trial period of telecommuting to your boss. Provide some justification, explain the benefits the company could realize by moving you to telecommuting status and convince your boss that you can be productive working from outside the office. If it goes well, you might end up working from home with a schedule that makes your friends jealous.
What Is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting is a term used to describe working from a location that is not the central office for your company. Telecommuting can be efficient and environmentally friendly while providing great flexibility to the employee. By working from home or an alternate office, you avoid the need to commute to your company’s office. However, engineering often requires in-person meetings or physical testing, so these tasks will probably require that you go into the company office on occasion. You might be able to telecommute two or three days a week if your primary tasks are analysis or jobs you normally do at a desk.
Making the Move
Some companies may offer telecommuting opportunities even if your current job isn’t currently structured this way. Many companies are beginning to understand the benefits of telecommuting because it provides additional flexibility to their employees. They know that happy employees produce better work and provide a better return to the company. Even if you can telecommute only part of the week, you will save money and time otherwise spent on commuting to the office.
What You Need
In order to telecommute, you will need a computer with a strong Internet connection and a telephone. As an engineer, you’ll need a high-end computer with good graphics and processing speed, as well as software to run analysis and CAD programs. Consult your IT group to ensure that you have VPN access, which will allow you to enter the company’s computer network from an outside connection. This is important because you will need to access files and engineering databases remotely. You will also need a printer, fax and scanner. A basic all-in-one device will probably do the job unless you have high-quantity printing or scanning needs. Your company may provide you with this equipment and software or reimburse you for the cost of purchasing it.
What to Expect
Telecommuting is beneficial because you don’t have to spend time getting to and from the office. You may save hours each day on time otherwise spent in a car or on public transit. As an engineer, you might wonder how you can collaborate with your colleagues on projects when you're not in the same space together. You’ll need to find a way to replicate in-person meetings. The best approach to is to use collaboration software and video conferencing, which will allow you to meet and interact with your colleagues virtually.
Auston Matta is an experienced engineer who has worked in the packaging industry since 2003. He holds a bachelor's degree in bio-engineering and a master's degree in engineering management. Auston has also contributed to "Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News."