Who telecommutes the most? Not developed nations, new survey finds

Globally, nearly one-in-five wired workers telecommute on a frequent basis, but the number working from outside the office varies enormously between regions, with those in the developing world reporting far more mobility than Europeans and North Americans.

Using Social Media to Keep Up with Colleagues

Working from home has many advantages. I have an office with a door and a window, a fully stocked kitchen with all of my favorite foods and a much shorter commute involving a few stairs and no traffic. However, I don’t have co-workers hanging around where I can bump into them in hallway to catch up on the latest news or just to socialize for a few minutes. It’s important to make sure that you don’t lose this connection to your colleagues just because you don’t work in the same office.

For many of us, social media helps to fill this gap. Not all of your colleagues are going to be on Twitter, Facebook or other social websites, but hopefully, you can at least keep up with a few of them. This can also be a sensitive topic for many people, so don’t be offended if some of your co-workers don’t accept your friend requests.

I know a few people who carefully separate their work and personal lives and aren’t interested in mingling them. One person I know has a “secret” blog where he talks about his family using only family member’s initials to respect their privacy, and he keeps this completely separate from his Twitter account and other professional blogs. Other people pick one social website, like Facebook, for personal activities and others, like Twitter or LinkedIn, for communicating about work. Many of us don’t make these distinctions, but it is important to respect your colleagues’ choices.

It can be difficult to keep up with everyone, so it can help to have ways to keep up with your co-workers to avoid losing their updates in the wave of updates from other friends. Here are a couple of tips:

Friend Lists in Facebook

Friend lists in Facebook perform two very useful functions. First, they can allow you to filter the information you see in your news feed based on how you’ve grouped your friends into lists. For example, you could have a work list that you can check separately to see what your colleagues have been doing. A quick check in the morning and another at lunch would help you keep up with people at work while minimizing the time you spend on it.

The other way to use lists is to control privacy, so for those of you who want to maintain privacy while also connecting with co-workers on Facebook, you can still limit how much information they see. If you spend a lot of time partying with friends or to respect the privacy of your children, you might consider hiding photos from your coworkers as one example.

Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are another good way to keep up with work friends, especially since many of the commonly used Twitter clients have built-in support for the feature, allowing you to use lists separately in columns or other views. I know some people who keep separate lists for professional and personal contacts, which is a good way to keep the streams distinct.

In my case, most of my friends work in the technology industry, so I don’t separate based on work vs. personal friends. However, I do keep a separate list of family and close friends where I want to read every tweet. I also have a short list of people that I like to follow more closely because what they say is almost always interesting and relevant for me, and I try to read as much as I can from them.

The best thing about this approach is that you can expand it to include leaders in your industry or people in similar jobs at other companies, broadening your virtual water cooler out beyond your immediate co-workers.

How do you keep up with your colleagues when you work remotely?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

comScore: My Oh My, What a Big July

As we expected, July was a mega-month for online video. According to comScore’s latest numbers, 158 million U.S. Internet users watched more than 21 billion videos last month, both of which were all-time highs for the online video world.
Online video is prone to breaking its own records lately — comScore reported June to be a record month for video viewers with 157 million viewers watching 19.5 billion videos. The grim boost Michael Jackson’s death bestowed upon the online video world at the end of June continued through July as his funeral service became a global online event.
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Telecommuting and the Untethered Employee

As part of a special report on Work/Life Balance, BusinessWeek ran a  “Telecommuting: Once a Perk, Now a Necessity,” an interesting story on how remote workers and telecommuting are now being seen as necessary developments for many organizations, rather than perks afforded to a privileged few amongst their workforce.
Driven by the need to reduce capital expenditure, many employers are encouraging workers to move to home offices. Here are a few interesting takeaways.

  • A healthcare provider is supplying free broadband and gratis office furniture, complete with a couple of delivery guys to set it all up.
  • the amount of money saved by working from home: $15 a day for lunch, $70 a week in gas and wear and tear on a vehicle.
  • To entice employees into telecommuting, Capital One is offering laptops and Blackberries, and the $1,000 managers can supply to workers to improve home offices.
  • At Capital One, office space will now be allotted by function, not title. Square footage will be based on office presence, not rank, with the new workplace will be less about working alone and more about working together.

There’s a bunch of phraseology strung throughout this article that I think is really pertinent to the web worker. Really what we’re talking about is the “post-geographic, untethered worker” — the web is simply an enabler for many disciplines and industries. I’m going to stop using “telecommuter” and go with “untethered” worker from now on!
There are some interesting inferences to be made from Gelb’s story and that of her employer – could coworking be seen as a potential “halfway house” for employees? Could smart employers provide coworking credits to their newly untethered workers, or perhaps stimulate the development of sponsored coworking spaces that benefit workers who might live in proximity?

Just What Do We Call Ourselves, Anyhow?

We are (obviously) fond of the term “web worker” to describe the WWD audience. But there are other terms that get thrown around a lot: “digital bedouin” is popular among the cutting-edge set, “telecommuter” seems to be the darling of the mainstream media, while “teleworker” gets heard in government circles. But as the folks over at Plantronics point out in launching their TeleWho? contest:

It’s 1973 — Elvis has popularized the sequin jumpsuit, the country is embroiled in Watergate, and the term “telecommuter” is first coined.

No doubt because it’s not catchy enough for advertising, the Plantronics folks want to replace “telecommuter” with some other term for “today’s always-connected-but-not-always-in-the-office worker.” Actually, they want you to come up with it for them.

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Amazon’s Streams a Pipe Dream?

Yesterday we learned that Amazon will launch a pay-per-view streaming service in the next few weeks. Since then, Silicon Alley Insider was able to extract a few more nuggets about the service from Jeff Bezos: You’ll be able to stream rentals and purchases, prices will be the same as Unbox, and you’ll be able to watch movies right away.

But what does it all mean? Is it a good idea for Amazon? Amazon PR is being incredibly tight-lipped about the whole thing, but here are some initial thoughts.

Since the service will stream, you’ll have to watch it on your PC (Unbox movies are currently Windows-only). That is, unless Amazon’s planning to turn the Kindle into a set-top box, which would just stream the scripts for all the movies.

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