The American Telecommuting Association

1220 L Street, NW, Suite 100

Washington, DC 20005


The Telecommuting Work Suitability Index

The Simplest, Easiest Way To Evaluate A
Telecommuting Candidate's Typical Assignments

What Kinds Of Work Are
Good For Telecommuting?

Plumbers and surgeons can't do it, yet, but computer programmers and telephone operators can. Obviously, not all work is equally adaptable to the special opportunities and limitations of telecommuting. In general, work that is easily accomplished via telecommuting includes:

  • Tasks that do not require specialized equipment,
  • Work that can be done alone, and
  • Responsibilities that can be handled in any location.

Clearly, thousands of common jobs contain some responsibilities and tasks that are perfectly well suited to telecommuting. But how to know for sure?

Even the most skillful, enthusiastic, hard-working, and well-trained telecommuter will fail if the only assignments he or she receives are not well suited to telecommuting. That's why the companion evaluation to the Telecommuting Affinity Index must be an equally fair-minded evaluation of the work a candidate for telecommuting is typically asked to do.

Because their work generally can't be done while telecommuting, trustworthy and hardworking employees from surgeons to plumbers, from receptionists to expediters are rarities in the "work-at-home" population.

But during the past few decades of steadily continuing growth in the numbers of telecommuters, more and more people in a wide range of front-line, supervisory, mid-managerial, creative, professional, and strategic leadership positions have chalked up considerable success while performing at least some of their duties off-site.

The general rule is that you needn't forget how to get to the office to become a successful telecommuter -- the vast majority of telecommuters stay home to do their work only one or two days per week. The rest of the time, they're in the office like their non-telecommuting colleagues. This "home and away" pattern creates the possibility that you can "time shift" your assignments to place the responsibilities most suitable for telecommuting into full days of work -- and telecommute only on the days when you actually do that work.

On this basis, tens of millions of people doing a vast range of jobs can find a way to do at least parts of them very well without physically traveling to their employer's centralized office every day.

To quantify the kind of work that's suitable for telecommuting within any individual's set of responsibilities, you can use the time-tested Telecommuting Work Suitability Index.

Basically, it's a questionnaire you can administer to all the telecommuting candidates in your workgroup, or to yourself (if you're interested in pitching yourself as a telecommuter to your boss). From the answers, you can make a fairly accurate determination of whether or not a sufficient proportion of the job's normal work can be accomplished via telecommuting.

You can administer the questionnaire again and again, as often as there are changes in the types of work to be evaluated.

The questionnaire asks for "how many hours" you spend at various types of work. You can guess at these figures, or you can use a relatively simple but accurate "Time Log" Form to make a more accurate determination.

Once you have listed the hours of effort for each of these categories, review the whole list. You might find you've listed more hours than you actually work during a typical work. That's because estimates made from memory are notoriously inaccurate. If you find this happening, you'll get better results when you revise your original answers to reflect more accurately how you allocate your time to the various kinds of work you do.

After the Telecommuting Work Suitability Index has been completed, it's easy to to interpret the point score using the enclosed interpretation guidelines.

To order one or more copies of the ATA's new Telecommuting Work Suitability Index (note: order one copy for each candidate you intend to test), call, write, or send e-mail to and specify the number of copies you want. The cost is $2.50 each, with a minimum order amount of $10 (price includes shipping and handling, ask about available discounts on purchases of 20 or more copies). Be sure to include your telephone number and mailing address. We'll call you to arrange for payment by credit card or check, and send out your requested copies of the ATA's exclusive Telecommuting Work Suitability Index within two business days.

To become a Member of the ATA, call 1-800-ATA-4-YOU , or e-mail to and let us know you're interested. Include your mailing name, address, and phone, and you'll receive a New Member Application Packet that explains all the advantages and benefits of membership.


Check Out The "Companion Piece" To The Telecommuting Work Suitability Index: The Telecommuting Affinity Index

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Last Updated: August 2, 2006
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