Cisco, in partnership with Mobile Work Exchange, is eager to kick off the third-annual Telework Week from March 4-8. Telework Week 2013 is a global effort to encourage agencies, organizations, and individuals to pledge to telework anytime during this week. I plan not only to pledge to telework that week, but also to continue in my career of teleworking.

I have worked for companies based in San Jose, Tucson, Phoenix, Washington DC, Boston, and now San Jose again… all without leaving my beautiful home state of Ohio.  I adopted telework in 1993 and as Telework Week 2013 approaches, I wanted to share my story about my years as a teleworker. Let me start by saying I would not change a thing.

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Telework Pros and Cons… But Are They Really Cons?

Do I miss having lunch with my colleagues? Sure. However, my dogs are pretty good companions because they never complain. Plus, the food in my kitchen is a lot better than any cafeteria food. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed being able to celebrate the milestones taking place in my colleagues’ lives in person, but I’ve made sure they always get a baby gift or a wedding gift.

What I don’t miss is the daily commute. Driving in rush-hour traffic or in snowstorms aren’t especially fun or productive and through telework, I’ve been able to get to work on-time every day. Also, my checkbook likes my lower insurance rates. On top of all of that, I am able to work in pajamas or sweat pants if I feel like it. For big projects that require more focus and concentration, I appreciate not having people dropping by to chat about their weekend.

Sometimes, people tell me I have it so easy working from home, being that I can come and go as I please. However, any teleworker will tell you it just doesn’t work unless you have regular office hours. My schedule still fills up with meetings just like my colleagues’ working from an office. What many people don’t know though is that it seems a lot harder to end the work day when your office is just a few steps or clicks away.

Technology At The Core of Today’s Telework Experience

When I first started telecommuting, I used a dial-up connection, which wasn’t always dependable. I now have a Cisco router that connects me automatically onto the secure network. I also cannot imagine working now without WebEx Connect. When I cannot reach someone, I used to have to call someone in a nearby cubicle to find out if they were in the office that day, now I just look at Presence. Later on that same day, I collaborated with a colleague in San Jose by asking the system to share my desktop. It took approximately 15 seconds and we were working on the presentation together as easily as if we were sitting next to each other.

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With the help of my video phone, routine phone calls no longer seem like a phone call, but more like a face-to-face conversation. The ultimate luxury has been the addition of my new EX-90, a desktop Cisco Telepresence unit. It really is as close as you can get to being in the same room, without driving in a car, getting on a plane, or even walking across a campus. Last week I did a class with a group of MBA students discussing telemedicine, and their excitement at its possibilities was palpable. With Telepresence, I can meet with people anywhere in the world and conduct crucial business needs with them from across a conference table.

Needless to say, I’m a fan of telework and the benefits made possible through Cisco technology. A big thank you to my employers who have afforded me the opportunity to do the work I enjoy in an industry I love, all while working from home. In my 20 years of teleworking, I have saved 435,200 pounds of pollutants – even your hybrid can’t beat that! I’ve also saved an estimated $291,200. Just think how much you could have back in your pocket!

 Take The Telework Week Pledge

Join me and the 100,000+ others who have taken the pledge to participate in Telework Week, March 4-8. While you’re at it, be sure to check out the Telework Week totals to see just how much of an impact you can make on reducing the number of pollutants and saving yourself money by teleworking. I hope you’ll consider a change of pace from your normal work week and give telework a try. It just may change the way you work… for many years to come!