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Monday, August 7, 2000
Lead Article

Don’t go to work, let it come to you

THIS is one of the most often asked questions at beauty pageants, "Why is India called a golden bird?" Well, the standard reply related to our "golden cultural heritage" might fit in this context. But in the present day world, India could be referred to as a "Golden Bird" due to its immensely talented manpower.

Earlier, due to limitation of movement of manpower, Indians were not much exposed to the outer world. Ever since the Internet revolution and advancement of information technology took place, Indians have an opportunity to rule the world.

Realising the potential of the Indian brain, a lot of companies situated abroad are showing an interest in having Indians in their work teams. However, it is not possible in most of the cases to move the workers to work the workplace. This is where information technology and the Internet come into play — in moving work to the workers. Technically, this concept is called as telecommuting.

The idea of telecommuting originated from the concept of time management. One may wonder how two persons, starting from the same level, living under similar circumstances, achieve different heights in their lives. Well, apart from factors like hard work and luck, the most critical component of success is "time management." Don’t you ever think if you had those 15 extra minutes in your exams, you could have done wonders? But, time is limited, and everybody has only 24 hours to live in a day.

As per a study, a person ordinarily spends roughly 15 per cent of his precious 24 hours in commuting to and from his workplace in big cities and metros, which constitutes a major part of his working time. In order to save the compulsory wastage of precious time and getting the most out of the available time, the concept of telecommuting gained currency. Although the world of telecommuting is very wide, we will limit our discussion to telecommuting and the new vistas of opportunities.


It is now very common to see people living in India and working for companies in other countries. The hottest example of telecommuting is transcription work (medical, legal, etc.), which is fast becoming popular in the country. There are several cases where people have quit their well-established jobs and have opted for telecommuting jobs. The biggest lure of these jobs is, primarily, good money and, secondarily, saving work-related travel. Thus, if you have the substance in you, telecommuting holds a lot of promise.

However, before you think about telecommuting, you must plan certain things. It is a matter of fact that the Internet is an ocean of information and you can find tonnes of information about telecommuting on it. Before you proceed, you must have a clear idea about what are you looking for in a telecommuting job. Broadly, these jobs may be put under two categories — skilled and unskilled jobs.

Skilled jobs are the ones where your professional expertise is required — for example, information technology-related jobs. Similarly, there are numerous jobs for architects and web designers on the Internet. All these jobs can be classified under skilled jobs.

Unskilled jobs do not require any professional expertise and are normally temporary in nature. For example, writing of letters for a company or taking non-technical interviews, mainly in the form of questionnaires, constitutes an unskilled job. Although you will not find this kind of a category on the Internet, it will help you in searching the job you are looking for.

Normally, in the case of unskilled jobs there are a number of fraudulent job opportunities. The most common frauds are related to envelop-stuffing jobs. The Internet is flooded with such opportunities and often people fall prey due to the mind-boggling remuneration offered for these jobs. They are advertised in such a way that they seem very impressive, and you are likely to agree to pay the registration charge, which seems peanuts in view of the promised remuneration. In reality, neither do these jobs exist, nor the money. In fact, for all such envelope-stuffing jobs, automatic machines are available which work very economically and efficiently.

Another case of fraud on the Internet related to telecommuting is of sending e-mails. These are "spamming" jobs, though in several countries sending unsolicited mail is an offence. However, there is no technical problem in sending e-mail in bulk as every browser supports this; all you need is the e-mail addresses.

If you are looking for any unskilled job, ignore these envelope-stuffing jobs and bulk e-mail-sending jobs. Since the unskilled jobs are more likely to be frauds, you should be very cautious in selecting the right job. Beware when the remuneration offered is unrealistically high.

However, every opportunity on the Net need not be seen with suspicion. There are also lots of good job opportunities that you can avail of. One such is taking non-technical interviews of people. This is basically a media research job, where questions are to be asked on a questionnaire, while professionals would do the data interpretation. These jobs are feasible from India using Net telephony. Similarly, the job of data entry also falls in the unskilled category, as no formal educational qualification is required, though it is expected that the job seeker be adequately qualified to handle the job. Likewise, there are several others opportunities available on the Net.

(It may be noted that on the Internet there are no such categories of skilled and unskilled work. It is being done in this article for the sake of analysis and pinpointing your requirement of a job.)

As far as skilled jobs are concerned, they are available in plenty. If you extensively search the Web with focus, you are most likely to find a job suiting you (though, not always).

One important point — not all is well with skilled jobs either, though the fraud may be of a lesser grade as compared to unskilled ones. The experience of several people tells that there are chances of your losing your hard-earned money. Ideally, in order to safe guard your interest, you should always ask for a written contract before you take up an assignment.

In order to get the right kind of job you have to plan a strategy. As the first step, we have already discussed the selection of the right category in which you would be seeking a job.

The second step of your strategy would be, "Where to find these jobs." The easiest way to search for a telecommuting job is to open a search engine like Infoseek, Yahoo!, Lycos, or Altavista, and search for the keyword "Telecommuting." The likelihood is once you press Go; you would get hundreds of sites related to telecommuting. However, if you can pinpoint you search as per step 1, then it would be rather easy for you to look for the right job. For example, if you are looking for a job in CAD, then you should go to the advance mode of the search engine and type the words telecommuting and CAD in the "must have" category. This way the search results you get would be related to telecommuting and CAD only and would eliminate the irrelevant jobs.

Another way of searching for the specific job is to search through various yellow pages. You may have to search yellow pages very extensively, as most are not very well organised. But the pain is worth the gain, as you can find your dream job here.

While you browse the Internet in search of telecommuting jobs, you will come across many sites that specialise in this field. You can register yourself at these sites and also bookmark them. One such site that hosts good telecommuting jobs is . Another excellent source for seeking information and jobs is .

Several sites offer free newsletters that keep you informed of the latest additions of telecommuting jobs to these sites. However, there is a word of caution — do not pay any money as registration fee as most of the genuine telecommuting sites offer free services. Before adding a site to your databank, you must also ensure that the contents of the site get updated regularly and offers are removed once the position is filled. Non-deletion or repetition of jobs creates problems. You can also leave your resume on sites that are being scrutinised by prospective employers and forms a part of their data bank. Thus, if you are not able to get a job the first time, then based on opportunities, you may get a chance in future.

Another source for telecommuting jobs is the numerous associations and governing bodies, like the International Telework Association, or the European Telework online website. After finding a telecommuting job, the third step would be to decide on your remuneration. Most of the telecommuting jobs offered by companies situated abroad pay in foreign currency and ask for your expectation. There are several ways of deciding your remuneration:

1) Break-even remuneration — just equal to your expenses.

2) Cost-plus remuneration — a percentage over your expenses.

3) Remuneration based on industry standards: Well, this is the best way of deciding on your remuneration. Before you frame your demand, you must precisely know what the industry standards are and this can be found out by an extensive search on the Internet and also from the company’s previous payment records.

Unlike India, the standard norm of payment abroad is weekly. However, if you are working on a project, where your job would be considered finished only after you deliver the final goods, then you must relate your payments to certain stages of the completion of your project. Ideally, in no case should you leave your interests (your money) unsecured. Also, you must remember to commit only as much as you are capable of delivering and must not over commit in telecommuting jobs.

Last, but not the least, always ask for a written contract with your prospective employer as it safeguards your interest in the case of a dispute and also binds both the parties to the terms of contract.

Telecommuting is, thus, a new but very challenging concept as it gives you a tremendous scope to show your capabilities and also make big money. If you succeed even once in a good telecommuting job offered by a good company, you never know, it could be your turn next to join the millionaire club.

You can find some good links for genuine telecommuting sites at . Go ahead, explore the world.

— Vipul Verma