With more and more people telecommuting for their work, you may be considering remote working for either yourself or your employees. If you are looking into it, it’s crucial that you understand the potential benefits and negatives of the practice.
The truth is that with the right technology, in this day and age, that dependent on profession, nearly everything you do at work can be done from any location. As long as you have a strong wifi connection and a good computer you can work from home easily whether you are crafting emails, leading meetings, or collaborating on projects. The reality for many modern companies is that coworkers need never be in the same room.
Savings for your company
If you are looking for reasons to promote flexible scheduling, or need to convince your boss that this is the right path for you, there are a number of positive statistics surrounding working from home when it comes to the bottom line.
Obviously, by not providing a dedicated work space, the company will save on real estate, but just how much?
Right now, with just partially implementing telecommuting policies, American Express is boasting $15 million in savings derived from having employees work from home. In addition, insurance giant Aetna has built to a workforce that is almost 50% remote. The savings they project are more than $70 million.
Studies also project improved retention rates for companies with work from home options by more than 10% and surveys have shown that nearly 75% of employees that are stuck in an office would consider leaving if they were offered a work from home scenario.
What about productivity?
It’s likely that the most nagging question regarding work from home scenarios surrounds productivity. If employees are allowed to work unstructured, will they slack off, watch TV all day, or phone in from the beach, instead of getting their projects done?
In fact, the statistics on working from home say that this concept is so ingrained that around 60% of remote employees work even harder to dispel the idea that they might not be doing enough.
And, the truth is that most employees that have transitioned from the office to working from home say that they are more productive from home than they were in a traditional office setting where distractions can include general socializing, parties and events, and the purposeless meetings that should have been emails.
Tips on working from home for employees
The reason so many people are seeking the ability to work from home has to do with flexibility. With extra hours not sucked up by a commute as well as the ability to work on their own schedule, employees have improved work-life balance, reduced stress and showed a greater investment in their company.
However, there are pros and cons to the work from home scenario that should be understood:
- Be responsible for your time: Because the time is unstructured, if you do not have a good ability to be responsible for your own schedule, remote work may not be for you.
- Make a calendar (and stick to it): The work calendar is the lifeline of any positive work from home scenario. This means creating a routine — regular hours at specific times of day that are designated relatively as unassailable work hours. If this means removing distractions like turning off notifications on your phone, make it happen.
- Have a dedicated workspace: Make sure there is a place where you “go” to work and do not try to do projects from your couch or your bed. It might be a good idea to leave your place to find a spot. You can try libraries, coffee shops, or cooperative virtual office solutions, but don’t combine (for example) your work and sleeping spaces. It will not result in the best productivity.
- Keep life and work separate: That means not only the space, but make sure you have separate email and phone lines. It is just good practice and avoids confusion.
- Create your own balance: Actually, while productivity is a concern for employers when it comes to working from home, the opposite idea can be the most concerning for those who are toiling away. Working from home and creating your own hours can make it difficult to step away when you should. Make sure to set mandated breaks and meal times and to take those breaks. Burning out (which includes making yourself ill) is the end result of working for too long on marathon stints.
- Be social: Loneliness is quoted as the largest downside of working from home. And, just because you are saving yourself from the drudgery of the water cooler chats doesn’t mean that you should avoid your coworkers entirely. Make sure to create scenarios where you plan to interact with others. There is some merit still in face-to-face meetings too and there are many virtual office spaces where you can meet with fellows or simply connect with other people who are telecommuting.
Ultimately, if you have the right mindset, the pros (including financial and emotional) far outweigh any cons when it comes to working from home. This doesn’t even factor in how good it is for the environment. Just by avoiding a commute, telecommuters in the U.S. are saving the earth from over 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses.
So, if your boss isn’t convinced by all the work from home statistics you bring in, let them know that what you are actually doing by telecommuting is saving the planet.
Sarah is a Content and PR manager at Your Best Digs. She’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help customers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting stamps in her passport.