Do you understand the telecommuting pros and cons? I’m sure you’ve noticed that more and more people are working from home. In this post I will take a look at what happens when you have your desk in a home office. With more and more people and companies opting for telecommuting solutions, it’s important to understand the benefits and the disadvantages.
From financial savings to better health, there are tons of benefits to telecommuting for both employers and employees.
Employers enjoy reduced costs
Employers that develop a remote workforce can look forward to a healthier balance sheet. Working from home saves money because it means fewer overheads for employers.
A home worker isn’t using the employer’s electricity or their other resources for example. Usually, office workstations and equipment are kept to a minimum. All in all, there are many cost savings that come with remote working. So it can be a huge win for employers.
Employees enjoy fewer office distractions
One of the key telecommuting advantages is that it is easier for people who work from a home office to concentrate on their work. Many people mistakenly believe that office spaces are quieter than employees’ homes. This is not true.
There’s always something going on in the office work environment, whether it be the office buddy who offers to go out for coffee or the constant noise from the phones.
And don’t get me started on open plan offices.
Telecommuting pros and cons: Fewer sick days are a clear ‘pro’
Employees who work from a remote location have fewer sick days. While they may not live like hermits, they will naturally see fewer people and therefore be less exposed to germs. With less time in front of germs they will be healthier and more productive. Most importantly, they will not be calling in sick.
According to a survey by Indeed, 50% of employers that allowed for remote work found that absenteeism was reduced by 50%.
Remote working reduces your carbon footprint
One of the benefits of telecommuting is that remote work does reduce your carbon footprint. It has a number of environmental benefits. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, air pollution, and paper and plastic waste, it promotes energy efficiency.
Moreover, these benefits accumulate over time. A 100-person company that works remotely for one day a week would save 100 times more greenhouse gas emissions than if just a single person did the same.
Telecommuting pros and cons: Personal freedom
Workers who work remotely appreciate their freedom. Their daily schedules can be arranged to suit both their work and home lives as long as they follow the set hours (and avoid Netflix).
Also, not having to fit in with other team members is a positive effect. Employees are more satisfied when an employer allows them a home job with this kind of freedom.
Flexibility with time
Working remotely as part of their daily life allows employees to manage their own schedules as well as saving time on commuting.
Some people perform better in the mornings. Others work better in the evening. Providing you don’t affect your co-workers and you meet deadlines and the required number of hours, you can work when you want.
Working from anywhere
Remote work also offers employees the benefit of working from anywhere. This allows people to avoid unnecessary travel as they are not relegated to a city that doesn’t suit their tastes or standards.
Managing remote work allows spouses to retain their jobs, or at least ease the transition period, if they need to be based or assigned in a particular location. With a good internet connection, you can work anywhere in the world.
Mental health benefits
The mental health of employees can also be improved by remote working because there is less stress. Working in your own environment can also be relaxing. Motivated and productive employees produce better quality work.
No longer a minority
With the recent Covid-19 outbreak, employers have realized the benefits of remote working and the number of employees working from home has skyrocketed. Remote working isn’t associated with being lazy at home all day. As the future of work, remote workers are building a reputation.
Telecommuting pros and cons: Better work-life balance
Remote working offers a better balance. The ability to work from home gives you more time to plan both home and work tasks. Employees are thus more productive and feel more accomplished.
Remote workers find that:
- Nothing is rushed or backed up in traffic
- There’s no need to carry files or a laptop
- There is no need to feel guilty about taking a break
- Stressful office politics are nonexistent
- They spend more time with their family
Your own office space
Working remotely gives you the flexibility to set up your workspace the way you want it. If you’re a little tardy at times, colleagues won’t be there to complain about you.
The environment in which remote employees live makes them more productive. Work from home or telecommute, and you can arrange your desk wherever you like, close the door whenever you like, and listen to music if it stimulates your creativity.
Blend it in with your personal life
Having your own workspace and working remotely allows you to customize it to reflect your personality. To create an inspiring workspace, you can hang pictures of your children and animals. This is all about making your work area totally yours.
Because you spend many hours working, a space you enjoy spending time in can boost your productivity. Employees working remotely can choose a plain-looking or vibrant workspace. Whatever helps you work, basically.
Business owners benefit from more talent
Selecting remote workers gives business owners more options. An employer can hire anyone in any part of the world, depending on time zones. This increases the chances of finding people with specialized skills, reducing training costs.
Hiring remote workers also offers the advantage of not having to face relocation costs, which can amount to thousands of dollars for the company. Since millennials grew up with technology enabling remote work, they almost expect to be able to work remotely.
Job satisfaction also includes employee loyalty
Loyalty is enhanced by flexible working. This is another advantage of allowing employees to work from home. The employer and employee will trust each other if the employee works from home. Respect is built in the workplace when an employee feels their boss trusts them with the task.
If employees are happy in their job, they will not look for another position. By avoiding new hires, the company saves money and retains its expertise.
It can be strange for employees to work remotely. The silence and lack of office chat are unfamiliar to them. But as people learn to talk to whom they need to, when they need to, without wasting time, this can also encourage better communication.
Through messenger apps and chats, colleagues can also get to know each other better and find out how they can benefit each other. Working remotely promotes collaboration as well as constant communication that is positive.
Remote working advantage: a bigger talent pool
The offer of home working may be an incentive for new employees and could encourage new talent to join a company. In fact, that company will be more competitive in the job market simply because they have offered remote working.
Telecommuting pros and cons: the cons
Telecommuting does have some aspects that aren’t necessarily ‘positives’. These need weighing up before employers and employees take the plunge.
Not everyone is suited to working from home. Working in an office environment might provide a sense of routine and structure to some employees. In order to accomplish their goals and complete tasks, some employees find face-to-face guidance from their manager very beneficial.
People with disabilities should also be considered. It may affect the support they need to do their job if they work from home. Likewise, working from home may not be compatible with people’s home life, for example if they have young children who can interrupt their working day. Some may not have enough physical space to create a dedicated working room.
Feelings of isolation
Less face time and a general lack of human interaction may mean that work from home staff feel isolated from their colleagues and the organisation as a whole. Businesses can improve communication to resolve this problem.
Staff feel more involved and part of the team by having regular team meetings and frequent check-ins via meeting software like Skype. Isolation might also be countered by informal social catch-ups and other ways to promote frequent contact. It’s vital that employers consider the social aspect of working life. A regular call from a team leader helps to keep employees feel connected.
Telecommuting pros and cons: A loss of productivity, or too much productivity
Remote working is said to increase employee productivity. Despite this, there are many temptations to distract you when working remotely. If you are home full-time you could develop problematic habits like:
- The midday nap,
- Netflix/gaming/tech distractions on a regular basis
- Taking too much time to spend with family, etc.
- Allowing the distractions of social media to eat up chunks of your day
As a result, it can prove difficult to maintain a strong work ethic for an extended period of time. Additionally, working remotely can leave you feeling isolated and unmotivated to do your best. Therefore, all of the various disadvantages mentioned above may lead to a loss in productivity when working from home.
On the other side of the coin, some employees may simply work too hard. Without the ebb and flow of professional life and office routines, they could end up overworking. Being in an office and functioning within professional relationships can provide some controls. Without these controls, it is possible to find yourself working longer hours simply because you can.
Telecommuting disadvantages: Tech costs and security issues
Sometimes, just having the right technology can be a problem. Having the flexibility of telecommuting can mean that you have to spend a large amount of money on equipment that allows you to work remotely.
Even if you work for an employer, it can be difficult to have the latest equipment paid for by them. Home offices with high-end laptops and desktops, as well as internet connections and other equipment, like printers/fax machines, can be pricey. This is not convenient for everyone.
Access to sensitive documents can also be an issue if you work over the internet. These security concerns can cause huge problems if not dealt with effectively.
So what’s the deal?
There are clearly more pros than cons here. However, it is important for employers to have certain measures in place that will ensure employees are safe and productive. Many companies now have a detailed telecommuting policy that outlines the type of work employees are expected to complete while at home.
Clear policies ensure that a remote team sticks to sensible work hours, experiences some social interaction and avoids the potential negative impacts of home working.
I’ve worked from home extensively in the past. The coronavirus crisis has placed many of us in the same position. I have found that regular contact with colleagues and clients, as well as frequent in-person meetings, help to alleviate the potential cons of telecommuting.
There are a number of telecommuting pros and cons. However, as long as interaction with other humans is possible at least once a week, the telecommuting model is positive and productive.
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