The Perks and Pitfalls of Working At Home by Sheri Warren Sankner

The Perks and Pitfalls of Working At Home

It’s 11 a.m. and you’ve polished off half of your to-do list. Marketing report done. Client follow-up phone calls completed. New business proposals emailed. Website updated. And you’re still in your pajamas. You are one of the nine million people who work from home in the U.S.

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by Global Workplace Analytics, a new report details the rapid growth of telecommuting over a recent 10-year period. Telecommuters in the U.S. increased 115% between 2005 and 2015.

So who is working from home? The average telecommuter is about 46 years old, but its more common among employees over 35 and baby boomers. The same population of women and men telecommute.

Recent studies indicate that working from home can increase productivity and decrease stress. Research also suggests companies that support work from home programs actually save money; an added bonus for employers.

The tech industry has long embraced flexible scheduling and telecommuting opportunities. Since most tech companies are web-based and technology is the most utilized resource when working from home, it is easy and convenient to stay connected. According to monster.com, while remote workers are found in many different industries, it’s become more prevalent in the tech-sphere due to the nature of tech jobs. For developers and programmers who require strong attention to detail and long hours of concentration, working from home can reduce the amount of distractions, allowing them to get more done.

Additionally, for employees who live far from the office, eliminating a difficult commute can relieve stress and enhance overall health.

A Stanford University study, published in Quarterly Journal of Economics in November 2014 found that working at home reduces employee turnover and led to a 13% performance increase. Home workers also reported improved work satisfaction and their attrition rate halved.

Global Workplace Analytics reports that over two-thirds of employers experience increased productivity and fewer absences among employees. The American Management Association claims that companies that implemented an at -home work program realized a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences. In fact, 78% of employees who call in sick, really aren’t sick at all, but instead have family issues, personal needs, and stress. Unscheduled absences cost employers $1,800/employee/year — up to $300 billion a year for U.S. companies. Over 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.

As many as two-thirds of people want to work from home and 36% would choose it over a pay raise. Overall, with no geographic boundaries and lower overhead expenses, telework saves employers and employees money. It also provides access to under-served worker populations such as the handicapped and retirement-age baby-boomers.

From an employee standpoint, working from home can be a mixed blessing and truly depends upon the individual.

Better work-life balance ensures more flexible time with family and pets. A flexible work environment often involves no set work hours. You can mix up your work day, listen to music, watch television, take a nap, run errands, and schedule appointments without wasting the entire day.

Anywhere with a WiFi connection can be your office for the day — a coffee shop, library, beach, or park. No stressful commute means time, energy and cost savings in public transportation, gas, tolls, and no traffic jams.

Additional savings result from more wearing casual attire (work in your PJs or jeans and t-shirts), fewer dry cleaning expenses, home office tax write-offs, and less spending on food. Health and fitness benefits include eating better, taking exercise breaks, and reduced stress levels.

Fewer distractions and increased uninterrupted productivity comes with independence and motivation. You have to assess tasks, develop schedules, be proactive and self-directed, and hone your skills.

It’s a morale booster that increases company loyalty. It leads to greater job satisfaction and employee enthusiasm. Plus, you avoid office politics with no water cooler gossip. With remote communication tools like Video calls, GoToMeeting and Skype you can have more effective meetings. You can also collaborate remotely through Dropbox and Google docs.

Conversely, there are a few pitfalls to at-home work: Telework requires self discipline. You must be self-motivated in order to get work done. In fact, some people feel more pressure to be productive at home. No coworkers stopping by your desk means no camaraderie. Some get lonely and miss in person team collaboration and social interactions.

Since you are tied into technology, it is harder to unplug. You may actually work longer hours at home with fewer breaks. Sometimes you need to get outside or you’ll go insane!

Work-life balance can also tip the other direction. Lines can be blurred and distractions can interrupt. For example, the dog needs to be walked, children need to be picked up, and personal business can interfere frequently. The Pro’s and con’s are up to the individual to decide. But working in one’s jammies? Mmmm!

Information
Books
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to learn more.
Working From Home Or Living At Work
by Barry Carter
Working From Home – How to Telecommute and Like It
by Gary McKracken
There’s No Place Like Working From Home
by Elaine Quinn

Links
Global Workplace Analytics
Flexjobs.com
Remote.co – grow remotely – why


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