Whenever someone learns that I work at a remote position, their first reactions are usually, “Man, I would love to work-from-home!” This is usually followed by, “You’ve got it made!” And with the uproar that the recent Yahoo! Telecommuting controversy sparked, I decided to analyze just why the majority of people are so fond of the idea of working remotely or only coming into the office a few days out the week; an idea people passionately advocate for .
Because, as with everything in life, there’s an upside and a downside to everything. Working remotely is no different. Sometimes you can be isolated as you work, which hinders your interpersonal communication skills growth. Also, you miss out on the invaluable relationships you can create in an office and/or team setting.
If you’re not self-disciplined, you’ll find yourself falling behind on your work or working late into the night to ensure deadlines are met. These are all downsides, of course. So what about the good?
Telecommuting is a business practice that comes attached to many benefits, both for the employer and the employee. This is the case whether a given employee telecommutes all the time or just a couple of days out of the work week. Below are some of the most advantageous of the benefits:
Economical and Environmentally Friendly
One of the most widely discussed benefits of allowing employees to telecommute from home is the way it can save so much fuel, energy, and money. The employee saves on expenses, such as gas, restaurant meals out, and child care. The employer saves on pretty much all of the expenses attached to keeping an employee in office in the first place, which could save their overall salary. The environment benefits from one less car being on the road every day burning fuel.
Studies show that the more freedom and independence a given employee may have at work, the happier and more productive he or she is likely to be overall. Telecommuting makes it possible for an employee not to have to make a choice between family obligations and work responsibilities, for instance. It also gives the employee more freedom to manage his or her own schedule for the day, take lunch when needed (and desired), and handle things around their household. Happy employees that aren’t required to sacrifice their personal lives for work as often are more likely to stay with a given company over time and to report being generally happy at their job. Also, especially for those in larger metropolitan areas, the fact that they don’t have to deal with a treacherous commute can be the icing on the cake, especially seeing as how stressful commuting can be.
Increase in Productivity
Allowing employees to telecommute when and if they need to cuts down on the number of productive hours lost should an employee become ill or run into a personal situation that would normally require them to call in sick. The company thrives as a result and the employee doesn’t lose valuable pay if they work on an hourly basis. For this reason, many companies will allow telecommuting on an as-needed basis. Other employees may have one or two regular telecommuting work days while still more people might telecommute on a permanent basis.
Telecommuting also allows for greater flexibility for all parties involved. For instance, small businesses don’t have to worry about how to make often limited office space go further if some employees are allowed to work from home on a regular basis. It’s also easier to fine-tune schedules and personal responsibilities to suit the needs of both the business and the employees if long-distance working is at least considered as an option.