Employees working from home is becoming more commonplace in a variety of different industries. Although there are positions in retail, hospitality, and healthcare where this option is all but impossible to offer, the statistics of telecommuting show that remote work creates people who are happier and more productive. Even if at-home options are offered just once per month, the employee who gets this benefit is up to 24% happier than their colleagues who are stuck going to the office.
Owl Labs put together a series of statistics that show the many benefits of working from home in the United States and globally.
- 52% of employees who can telecommute will work from home at least once per week.
- 18% of workers who have the option to telecommute say that they are always working from home.
- 35% of those who get to work remotely say that telecommuting gives them more opportunities for quality employment.
The number of employees working from home rose 22% between 2017 and 2018. Over 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are prevented from entering the environment because telecommuting reduces the need to commute. Even though most companies won’t pay for Internet access or a co-working space, the pros and cons of this arrangement are still tempting for workers to review.
List of the Pros of Employees Working from Home
1. It gives workers more independence over their lives.
You are truly independent as a worker when you can be at home with your responsibilities. Whether it is the allure of reporting to your job in your pajamas or not fighting with someone over the lunch you brought, those who rely on self-motivation can find a new level of success with this option. Allowing employees to be at home when they work provides higher levels of concentration, focus, and self-discipline to those who can stay productive. These traits are what separate the leaders throughout the course of a career.
2. More work gets done by employees at home.
There are going to be some workers who binge-watch Jerry Springer or sneak off to a yoga class, but the average person is going to be more productive if they can work from home. It begins with the commute – or lack thereof. Instead of spending 30 minutes on the road, that employee might have 10 steps down a hallway to take so that they can report to the office. Some people can add up to three hours of stress-free productivity to their day because they don’t need to get behind the wheel or deal with interruptions of social coworkers and office chatter.
3. It encourages better communication from each employee.
You don’t get to have fast meetings during a break in someone’s office when there are employees working from home. These get-togethers require more planning and coordination to be successful experiences. There are plenty of tools that you can use to make this happen, ranging from web meetings to email, allowing everyone to become more familiar with the processes needed to stay in touch. Although the efforts to coordinate can cut into the overall productivity you experience, the levels are still typically higher than if you had everyone coming into the office at the same time.
4. Added flexibility will help employees work longer.
Many employers worry about their workers taking advantage of the option to work from home. You could log into your account, link email to your cell phone, and then head out for an afternoon at the beach, right? Most people don’t do that. When there is more autonomy over a personal schedule, then most employees work longer hours and stay more productive compared to their co-workers at the office. When there is a higher level of independence, then the work rates go higher as well.
What is the reason for this advantage? It’s called the “gift exchange theory.” Your employees want to prove that your trust in their ability to work from home is well-placed. They feel obligated to repay you by working harder, longer hours. This process occurs because there is an internal desire to prove that the trust in them as a telecommuter is not a mistake.
5. Workers can adapt their schedules to fit their family needs.
When employees can make their own hours or can work from home on a rigid schedule, then there is more adaptation around the personal needs of the family. Your workers can fit their professional responsibilities around a daycare schedule, school drop-off or pickup, or manage the doctor’s appointments that happen. There are more chances to catch a child’s soccer game, attend a graduation ceremony, or handle the issues that come up in life every so often.
Although there are in-office events that employees working from home will miss, the advantages of getting to see your family more often is a fair trade in the mind of most workers. It is an essential component that can lead to a healthier work-life balance for the average worker.
6. It is easier for employees to indulge in some self-care.
When there are more opportunities for employees to put their personal needs above their work responsibilities, then there is more joy to find during the day. People who are happy when working are about 12% more productive than those who are not. You’ll have more options during your breaks or lunch hour as an employee working from home to take classes at the local gym, indulge in a walk around the neighborhood, or block out some time for meditation. Whatever it takes to clear your mind and handle your responsibilities enters the realm of possibility with telecommuting.
7. There is more time for workers to pursue their passions outside of work.
Depending on how far the commute would be for some telecommuters, there could be up to three additional hours of productivity time for employees who get to work from home. Someone who works an eight-hour shift might be putting in a 10-hour day after their commute and professional routines are taken into account. When there is more free time available at home, then there is more time to pursue innovative ideas. There are a lot of extra hours to pursue a hobby or complete a degree.
When employees have an opportunity to find outlets outside of their job that let them pursue what they’re passionate about in life, then they are more likely to feel satisfied in their current at-home role.
8. You can let people work when they are the most productive.
Many employers who offer telecommuting options will also provide flexible hours to their workers. The reason for this advantage is simple: people can work when they are most productive. That means you aren’t forcing them to stick with a specific schedule. If an employee is a morning person who can be independent at home, then they might get an entire day’s worth of work finished before lunch. If someone does better in the afternoon or evening, then that option is available as well.
Employees who work from home are more likely to create times that are free of distraction so they can have an intense focus on their responsibilities. There are better options for regular renewal breaks with this option as well.
9. Businesses can recruit and retain better talent.
When employers can offer more flexibility with worker schedules or expectations, then there are notable increases in the overall morale and productivity of the employee. Offering the chance to work from home can help businesses attract more talent. It allows them to stand out from their competition in any industry, making it easier to retain the skilled workers that you eventually hire as well. Some workers will expect this option as part of their application process, so it may become an expectation in the near future to offer it as an option for some business types.
10. It can reverse downward trends in employee attendance.
Because working from home allows an employee to create a better work-life balance for themselves, it is an effective way to reduce absenteeism in the workplace. Any company that struggles to adequately manage employee attendance should look for ways to encourage telecommuting. “Flexible work arrangements can involve a paradigm shift for organizations,” notes SHRM, “especially smaller ones that may not have the critical mass of technology, budget, management, and competitive flexibility necessary to make use of them.”
As long as the work that people do meets or exceeds the business needs, working from home can reduce office space requirements, travel costs, and technology expenses.
11. There are three primary ways that telecommuting can be offered to employees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act suggests that telework is a reasonable accommodation when offered to workers. It is a widely-accepted where businesses use metrics to determine their ROI and ongoing monitoring for each worker. There are three different types from which to choose for organizations who are thinking about offering this option to workers.
- Regular telework that is reoccurring involves an employee spending every workday, or a regularly scheduled set of shifts each week, working from a home office or another remote location.
- Brief telework needs like writing a grant or preparing a spreadsheet can allow for uninterrupted productivity without creating a full-time position that works remotely.
- Emergency or temporary work is a possibility for times of inclement weather, natural disaster response, or significant events that could create parking or traffic disruptions.
List of the Cons of Employees Working from Home
1. Employees who work from home often feel out of the loop.
When your communication skills are clicking on all cylinders, then telecommuting employees can feel like they are still part of the office environment. What ends up missing from the professional experience is the casual collaboration that happens in every job. You can’t pick up the best practices from other employees when you work alone at a home office. There aren’t brainstorming sessions that you can have over lunch. You’re going to be there with your leftovers, maybe a happy dog, and the pressure to continue working.
2. Some telecommuters forget to clock out at the end of their shift.
One of the greatest fears that employers have when they let people work from home is that they won’t be productive. Most employees usually have the opposite concern. Even when they sign off for the day, they might not be fully clocked out from their responsibilities. It is more challenging to separate one’s professional and personal lives when there isn’t a transition between the office and home. When you feel like you’re always at the office, then it is not unusual for workers to burn out faster even with the option to telecommute compared to the average office-based employee.
3. Some workers might not have full access to the tech resources they need.
When you work from home as an employee, then you’ll likely access cloud-based resources that let you maintain your productivity levels. There are some situations where data security considerations or consumer protection rights might prevent a telecommuter from having the full access needed to get their job done. These situations can even make it impossible for some industries to allow a flexible work schedule to occur. Businesses will need to review the job responsibilities of each employee before approving the ability to work from home.
This structural issue can also impact the motivation of the worker. When there is more freedom to take breaks, then productivity levels might plummet. It is up to each employee to set a rigid schedule, and then stick to it to be successful.
4. Office workers can have a low opinion of telecommuters.
One of the advantages of doing work in an office setting is that everyone can see your productivity levels. If an employee is constantly working, then people are going to realize it and respect them for it. You could have someone working from home full-time and not receive the same level of respect because that person isn’t publicly productive. A supervisor might be satisfied with the productivity levels of a telecommuter, but that person’s co-workers might think that they are not pulling their own weight.
The only way to offset this disadvantage is to place the onus on the individual working from home to over-communicate what they accomplish and the work they do for their team.
5. Employees working from home still need to get in some face time.
People who work from home still need to make an appearance at the office every so often to stay connected to their team. There are fewer ways to have spontaneous team-building opportunities with remote workers, so there must be proactive efforts made to include these employees in some face time. That means there will be a need to go to some meetings, trainings, and co-worker outings that occur. This disadvantage can mean extra costs for some employers since there may be a requirement to pay them the mileage necessary to get to the office and back from their home.
6. It requires the employee to create a private space for themselves.
The best way that an employee can stay productive when working at home is to create a dedicated office space for themselves. Then they must have the self-discipline to keep that area a professional place to work. If it is not off-limits to everyone else in their family, then the lack of privacy can lead to unfavorable results. Imagine having the doorbell ring, causing the dog to bark, and then the kids start yelling in the background while you’re trying to close a deal with a prospective client. That isn’t always the best way to make a good first impression.
7. Arranging meetings can become more of a challenge for at-home employees.
When everyone has a different schedule or place where they work, it can be difficult to figure out individual availability for meetings. This issue becomes even more problematic when you have people working all over the world. Trying to get someone in London, Chicago, and Singapore to coordinate on a time that works for an office in Los Angeles is one of the most interesting components and worst disadvantages that comes when employees can telecommute. You’ll want to be clear about your schedule expectations well in advance of any critical projects, assignments, or meetings that need to take place.
8. Working from home blurs the line between personal and professional responsibilities.
Life intervenes more drastically for employees working from home then it does for those who sit at a desk in the office. Anyone can have a family emergency come up, but there are fewer personal interruptions when employees must report to a designated desk each day. It is up to each worker to have the self-discipline to draw a line in the sand over what they can and cannot do during the day. Getting into “work mode” can be a challenge for even the most dedicated workers if they don’t feel good, have an issue with their kids, or struggle to stay focused at their home office. Unless there is a clear separation that can take place, this disadvantage impacts everyone who tries to work from home.
9. Some workers feel like employers “own” them with a remote working situation.
Employees can sometimes struggle with the idea of working from home because it creates a need for their employer to have a presence in their space. That virtual presence might only be in the form of a home computer in a segregated office area, but it can be an unsettling issue that reduces productivity levels. When you combine this disadvantage with the expectation of some businesses that a worker be available outside of normal business hours, there could be some resistance to the idea of becoming a telecommuter.
10. There could be career advancement problems for employees working at home.
Some employees may experience an adverse impact on their career aspirations if they are placed into a telecommuting program. The perception of some supervisors can be that the worker is outside of the office, so their availability is not as reliable as those who are employed in the traditional setting. Some people thrive when given the option to telecommute because they want to put in their time, and then be done with their responsibilities. If someone wants to reach the C-Suite, then they might refuse the opportunity to work in this way.
Working from home is an option for employees who make individual contributions to a project. When there are enough opportunities for office face time, it can feel like a telecommuter is an integral part of the team. That’s why you rarely see supervisors with the option to become a 100% telecommuter. People in specific industries, such as nursing, may not have a choice in what they do because of the job responsibilities that come with their position.
When working from home is an option, the advantages almost always outweigh the disadvantages that develop over time. Although there will always be the occasional worker who attempts to manipulate this structure for their benefit, most employees work harder and longer when given this opportunity.
That’s why the pros and cons of employees working from home should be taken into consideration if you want to recruit new talent. This perk of work can be enough to close the deal for skilled workers that want more control over how they live their life each day.
Although millions of people visit Brandon's blog each month, his path to success was not easy. Go here to read his incredible story, "From Disabled and $500k in Debt to a Pro Blogger with 5 Million Monthly Visitors." If you want to send Brandon a quick message, then visit his contact page here.