The Home Office: Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

home office

Close your eyes and envision your morning commute: the bumper-to-bumper traffic, the honking, and all of the wasted minutes spent listening to a mediocre morning radio talk-show.

If you are feeling anxious just thinking about it, you are not alone. Eliminating commute is just one of the reasons the work-from-home trend is sweeping the nation. Employers everywhere are discovering the many benefits of offering the option of telecommuting to their employees. Dell, Apple, IBM, Mozilla, and Bausch & Lomb are just a few of the many leading companies that have caught the home office wave.

Working from a home office is not an option for everyone (you can’t perform surgery on a patient via conference call). However, a wide range of professions lend themselves to the possibility of telecommuting: sales representatives, senior analysts, account executives, web and software developers, and accountants can all perform their duties from a home office. Some of the most common industries to find telecommuting jobs are information technology, healthcare, education, sales, and marketing. While these are the most popular fields that offer telecommuting, many other industries and positions allow the opportunity to work from home at least part-time.

The Upside

  • Flexibility: With the option to work anywhere and anytime, employees see an increase in both productivity and work satisfaction. Whether they choose to work from a home office or take their work mobile to a coffee shop or the park, workers have the freedom to set their own hours and choose the locations that suit them best.
  • Cost savings: Employers enjoy monetary savings by eliminating the need for large office spaces, supplies, snacks, and support staff (such as security and building maintenance). Rent is one of the top expenses of running a business, so the savings can be enormous.
  • Convenience: For many employees, working from home eliminates the issue of finding childcare, affordable transportation, and a number of other issues. This means less stress and absenteeism; sick employees may even accomplish some work from home when they otherwise would be forced to take the entire day off. It also allows them to be there for more quality time with their families.
  • No commute: Besides the obvious benefit of avoiding rush-hour traffic, eliminating commute results in less stress and higher productivity. Instead of wasting an hour or more driving every day, employees can instead focus on achieving more in their workday. Additionally, employees feel that saving gas and avoiding traffic are the most appealing things about telecommuting.
  • Limitless hiring: As a company leader, striving for the best means hiring the best. Offering telecommuting options means that anyone, anywhere, can be your next hire. Without geographical limits, you can truly craft a dream team of the top employees from anywhere in the world.

The Downside

  • Limited traffic: For companies that rely on foot traffic, the work-from-home business model may not be the best option. Without a physical location and employees staffing it, there is the potential to lose a large number of customers or clients.
  • Home-Work life imbalance: For those employees with demanding home-life responsibilities, working out of their house could be more stressful than helpful. Picture screaming children during a video conference or the work phone ringing constantly during family dinner. Creating boundaries between one’s work and personal life is important and may not come easily to everyone, so not all employees may benefit from telecommuting.
  • Lack of collaboration: The same thing that many people enjoy about working from home may also be a disadvantage. Lack of communication and collaboration between employees can create feelings of isolation in individuals as well as detract from overall team camaraderie and efficiency. If the job calls for teamwork, working from home may not be the best option.
  • No IT support: With so much riding on computer and internet accessibility, even a small hitch in technology can tremendously impact a business. At the office, this isn’t a problem: call the friendly IT guy and you will be back up and running in no time. At home, however, tech issues may not get fixed as quickly. As a result, hours or even entire days can be wasted while waiting for the problem to be fixed.

Weighing Home Office Options

There is so much more to working from a home office than simply avoiding rush-hour traffic and wearing your pajamas on the job. Telecommuting offers endless advantages for employers and workers alike. Companies can benefit from lower costs of business, such as renting and maintaining a workspace. Employers will see an increase in productivity and employee morale. And employees will experience a relaxing, flexible work schedule from the comfort of their own home. All of this combines to create a well-oiled workplace machine with minimal stress and maximum efficiency. The best part about offering work-from-home options for your employees: if they work from home, so can you!

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