I was reading an article by Kelly Eggers called, “The Five Best and Worst Things About Telecommuting: The Finance Edition.” This is a great account of the history of telecommuting and its benefits. I’d highly suggest giving it a read.

One of the most intriguing parts about Eggers’ article on telecommuting was the list of pros and cons. Both should be considered when considering whether to work from home using a virtual office or whether to rent traditional office space. Although this article deals specifically with finance professionals, there are some lessons in it for other industries.

Again, I’d suggest reading Eggers’ entire article, but I’ll outline her pros and cons here for a quick discussion of telecommuting and I'll relate it to virtual offices.

The “pros” she listed are:

  • You can sleep later and still get more done.

  • You’ll save money—both for you and your boss.

  • You could live somewhere you’ve always wanted to, and keep your job.

  • You’ll have fewer coworker interruptions.

  • You can help your firm go nationwide and global.

The “cons” she listed are:

  • Confidentiality and security can be an issue.

  • Jurisdiction can come into play.

  • “Flexible” can become too flexible.

  • Face-to-face interaction is highly limited.

  • It could totally backfire.

I don’t know whether or not Eggers works from a virtual office—but I do. (I am based near Ft. Lauderdale.) So I can vouch for the “pros” of telecommuting she lists. But I don’t totally agree with the “cons.” (Granted, these are specific to the financial services industry.)

She cites a risk with wireless networks, but I’m not using a wireless networks—not do you have to use a wireless network to work from a virtual office. From her perspective of the financial services industry, yes, this may make sense. But for most of us it’s irrelevant. She also cites jurisdiction in the financial services industry. This is another “con” that doesn’t apply to most of us.

Eggers says “flexible” can become too flexible. I suppose it could for some, but if you are an entrepreneur determined to build your business, you won’t slack off. And if you are a company employee who is ambitious, you won’t either. Recent studies show that telecommuting doesn’t engender laziness, but greater productivity. Virtual offices breed productivity.

Eggers says face-to-face interaction is highly limited. To me, this is not a disadvantage. I work on very tight deadlines. I spend most of my day on the phone or writing. Face-to-face interaction is overrated. If I want to interact personally, I can go out to lunch. Ultimately, I’m more productive without co-workers sitting next to me.