I recently ran across an article talking about the “honest truths of the telecommuting profession.” The article went on to explain that individuals who telecommute need to be self-motivated, have excellent prioritization skills and exceptional communication skills.
The reason that I’m not sharing this article with you is because telecommuting is not a profession. We don’t say, “I want to be a telecommuter when I grow up.” We don’t run job openings for “telecommuters”. A profession is defined as a paid occupation that usually involves some sort of training, education, or qualification. Telecommuting is working from home. It’s a means to get work done.
It reminds me of freelancing. A freelancer works for several different companies rather than being employed by one organization. Freelancing isn’t a profession. What a person does as a freelancer is a profession. For example, I’m a freelance writer – so, writing is my profession. Freelancing is how I accomplish my work.
Now some people might say the distinction is minor. But I’m not sure that it is. The second part of this article talked about the skills that teleworkers need to have. No arguments there. I agree that teleworkers need to be self-motivated, have excellent prioritization skills and exceptional communication skills. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say every employee, whether they telecommute or not, needs to have those skills.
That’s why I think understanding a profession is important. A profession is an occupation. It has specific skills and educational requirements. If we want to help people be successful in their jobs, we need to know what jobs are. Versus methods to get jobs done. We can’t design good jobs if we don’t know what jobs are.
Right now, the business community is talking about creating jobs that will attract top talent. They are making a direct connection between work and employee engagement. And they’re saying that employees stay with companies because they understand the impact their work has on the bottom-line. None of that will happen if the people who design work don’t know the difference between work methods and the work itself. In addition, we won’t be able to improve our work methods if we don’t recognize them as such.
One of the wonderful things about working today is the variety of methods we have to accomplish our work. I’d like to suggest we don’t mess that up by misinterpreting them for jobs. Because the adoption rate for methods (like telecommuting) is directly related to it’s success. And it will not be successful if we don’t define and manage it appropriately.
Image courtesy of HR Bartender0