According to a study published by Global Workplace Analytics, as many as 25% of working Americans telecommute today. The remaining 75% don’t know what all they’re missing out.
Working from home might not be everybody’s cup of tea, nor does every company allow for it, but as many teleworkers have discovered over the years, it offers numerous advantages to the employee and employer – even if they telecommute for only a couple of days a week.
Advantages of Telecommuting
For the telecommuter, working from home facilitates a better work-life balance. The average commute time in United States is 25.4 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By telecommuting you can free up almost 4.5 hours over a 5-day work week. Many can now pick and drop their kids at school, and also spare more time for themselves, such as at the gym or library.
Many of such teleworkers save money on professional apparel and restaurant lunches, and telecommuters aren’t distracted by talkative colleagues or being dragged into meetings not directly relevant to their work.
For the employer’s benefit, companies can hire the best person for the job, and not just the one who lives closest to the office.
Companies with strong telecommuting policies might save money on office space, utilities, equipment and other expenditures, such as salaries, since many workers opt to take less money when working from home. A recent Global Workplace Analytics report has shown that those who work from home are not only more productive but are also contented employees, which is good for company’s morale and retention.
More telecommuters would result in fewer cars on the road, which is also good for the environment.
Certainly, there are some snags to telecommuting. It could be a challenge to remain focused with all the distractions at home, unless you are disciplined. Some say they miss interpersonal acquaintances over lunch, coffee breaks, or while working shoulder-to-shoulder on an assignment. And while cloud and encryption technology guarantees strong security even with remote employees, not all companies are ready for the risks involved and thus they might be more vulnerable to a data breach.
Advice for Telecommuters
Whether you’re a telecommuter, entrepreneur or freelancer, the following are some thoughts on “best practices” while working from home.
Decipher what works best for you. Working from home is not a “one size fits all” scenario. For example, some people are “segregators” who need to be locked off from personal life, while others are “integrators” who work better in, say, a kitchen, or with kids and pets around. If you work better in the morning, you must work in the morning. If you get more despondent after the sun goes down, stick with that. Figure out what works best for you and embrace it. But be sure to take benefit from technology to make your job more productive, together with fast and reliable wireless Internet, an upright computer with high-quality webcam, organizational and cooperative apps, and cloud storage to best protect your data.
Working in morning has been found to be best. Contrary to above mentioned first telecommuting tip, several studies have found that those who get the bulk of their work done in the a.m. slot are more productive and successful than those who prefer sleeping at that time. In my opinion, if we finish as much work as possible before lunch, we get ample of time in the afternoon to prepare well for the next day, go after new business (if you’re planning to freelance), bounce ideas off friends or other self-employed types over coffee, or take a mental break or short exercise, before resuming work. People who work from home frequently face trouble turning work “off,” even at nighttime, but be definite to set some time for yourself and family.
Be comfortable. Except for when you’re video conferencing and don’t want to look like a schlep, wear whatever makes you feel comfortable – even if it is sweatpants, t-shirt, and baseball cap. Be seated in a comfortable chair, with an ergonomic keyboard and don’t lay cross-eyed at a teeny monitor when larger ones are dirt cheap these days. For those who spend a lot of time talking on the phone for work, a hands-free headset is a more comfortable choice compared to holding a receiver up to one’s ear. This is specifically true for those who like to multitask, such as typing on a computer while having a conversation at the same time. Keep water at your desk and stay hydrated.
Turn off distractions. Though it depends on personal preference, having a home office is a good idea for a couple of whys and wherefores: you might work more proficiently without being near the distractions like television shows, Facebook notifications, savory snacks in a kitchen, or hearing the kids fight over a toy; closing a home workplace’s door means your colleagues or clienteles are less likely to hear the dog woofing at a squirrel in the window; and you might need an isolated home office for any tax credits and write-offs you’re looking for. Breaks are good, but distractions are bad. Take regular breaks, but then you must get back to work.
We want people to find amazing jobs and professional satisfaction, whether they work in an office or work from home. If you’re considering telecommuting, it’s important for you to analyze yourself and determine if the disadvantages of telecommuting are worth giving it a shot; you must decide if working from home is the correct arrangement for your distinctive work and personal life. Either way you have to work, so think wholly about it and stick to whatever you decide. Because when you love what, how and where you do, only then you will survive this race of existence and that’s for sure.
– Poonam Yadav