woman using laptop at homeAccording to reports, around 80 million people in the northeast region experienced the harsh effects of winter Storm Janus Wed. Jan, 22, 2014. Reports say the storm led to the declaration of emergency in three states—New Jersey, New York and Delaware—and even the White House took a snow day due to the weather.

It’s in times (and weather) like this that having a work-from-home option comes in handy. The weather is unpredictable (no matter what the forecasts say) and businesses and workers need to have  a backup plan just in case weather like Storm Janus prevents the traditional in-office workflow.

When a winter storm hits dumping snow, ice and not to mention, freezing cold temperatures, I personally think the last thing a worker should be concerned about is making it in to work on time. And I say this because of the Internet and mobile friendly society we all function in.

Bad weather brings a myriad of other worries for employees. Schools close down or experience delays, which inevitably affect parents, i.e. your workers. On top of needing to find a sitter for the kiddies, workers also have to face danger as they prepare to commute into work. For those who drive, we’re talking navigating through snow and icy roads (if they haven’t been swept), possibly in traffic still as others head to their jobs. And inclement weather combined with a ton of vehicles on the road makes for an even worse than normal morning commute.

And let’s say some employees depend on public transportation to get them into work. Well, buses, trains and subways aren’t shielded from the effects of bad weather; they can stop running as well, giving workers the another thing to worry about.

But, if a company has already implemented a telecommute strategy, all productivity won’t be loss for days like these. Workers will be equipped with the necessary tools to continue their normal work activities—just away from the office.

Numbers show that nearly 34 million Americans already work from home sometimes and that number is expected to increase to 60 million by the end of 2014. And with so many people and companies utilizing this option, it must prove beneficial, right?

Well, research shows that besides keeping workers in the comfort and warmth of their homes during winter storms, working from home…

Reduces costs

This pertains to both the employer and employees. A company’s physical building requires money for lights, A/C, heat and all the other features and tools necessary for workers to do their jobs. By having workers stay at home from time to time a business can reduce some of its operating costs.

For workers, telecommuting saves them gas money, parking expenses (if applicable), money used for public transportation, and money spent on lunch/food while at work.

Increases productivity

The office can be filled with distractions and time wasters: emails, meetings, chatty co-workers to name a few. This can certainly reduce productivity. And even though one’s home is also filled with distractions, studies show that telecommuters tend to be more productive than those who work inside an office.

For example, a study by videoconferencing software provider UCi2i found that 94 percent of UK office workers work better when they conduct business from home. The survey participants cited that working from home is quieter and more peaceful and this option provides a better work-life balance.

Helps the environment

Although this benefit doesn’t directly affect a company or worker, anything that we can do to improve the environment is important. And providing a telecommuting option certainly fits the bill as it reduces the amount of cars on the road.

This ‘Green consciousness’ can indirectly affect an employer’s brand as people see that it cares about having a healthy environment. And Going Green is a huge talent attraction scheme, especially when seeking millennial talent.

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