There are differing opinions about letting employees work in the comfort of their own homes. Some businesses thrive on having personal, face-to-face interaction with their customers; while for others, meeting in person is just not necessary. How do we know if this is the right choice for our businesses? Keep reading to learn more about the good and bad sides of working from home.
The Good Side
Potential Cost Savings – According to Peerspace.com, “The typical price of an office space varies from less than $2 to more than $6 per square foot, per month.” However, renting office space in bigger cities like New York, may exceed $6 per square foot. “A typical business that allows employees to work from home would save $11,000 per year in expenses associated with having to provide a workspace for an office employee.” According to Global Workplace Analytics. With such astounding savings available, it is important to weigh your options. Does your business need a physical location to best serve customers and any customer service issues? Also, how much time are your employees typically spending at their desks? The average employee only spends about 50 to 60 percent of their day at their desk. Is your hard-earned money worth that?
Higher Focus and Productivity – Obviously, working from home is not for everyone. Stanford University conducted a two-year study that monitored the work habits of telecommuters. The study found that these at-home employees were just as productive, if not more, than their counterparts who spend each working day in an office. It was also discovered that these employees were 50 percent less likely to leave the company they were working for. Of course, making sure your employees each have a designated home office or at-home workspace is crucial. You also should make sure your employees do physically meet every so often and communicate with each other on a regular basis, just so that element of teamwork remains strong.
More Time and Less Stress – Going from your bed to your office is far faster than a commute to an actual office building. Without the stress of having to get up, shower, get all dressed up, and navigate bumper-to-bumper traffic is not always the greatest way to start the day. Starting your by waking up and simply walking down the hall to your office creates far less stress and can help you start your day in a productive and positive way. Another big stress-reducing benefit for employees is that they will be better rested. If you know you need to be at work by 8 AM, and it takes you an hour to get ready in the morning, and an extra hour just to commute to work, that can make for a very early morning! Showing up to work tired and irritated can really only hurt employee productivity.
The Bad Side
Distractions – Of course, home is also where we like to relax and unwind. Without the correct focus, it may be easy to become distracted. Kids, pets, television noise, and so many other distractions are in our homes. It is so important to encourage employees to limit these interruptions and distractions. If they are unable to complete their work while also dealing with outside distractions, working remotely may not be the best option for them.
Difficulty Collaborating – Communication between employees can sometimes be more strained when working remotely. Employees are isolated and it is easy for them to forget that they have a whole team of people they work with. Thankfully, modern technology has really helped with this issue. It is easy for telecommuters across the world to conference with each other to discuss projects, have general meetings, and offer each other updates. If these types of tools are not used, it may prove quite difficult to coordinate group meetings.
Talented Employees are Less Visible – Typically, it is easier for employees to show that they are hard-working and dedicated in person. With less social interaction, it may be harder for managers to pick who deserves a promotion or raise. You are unable to see how that person is spending their time and interacting with customers. If you are working with multiple telecommuters, it may also be more difficult remembering who did what if you don’t constantly see their face. This lack of visibility can sometimes lead to the best candidates being passed over for promotions or special assignments.
As I mentioned, telecommuting is not for everyone. There will always be distractions and working from home definitely requires structure and organization. Not every industry can work from home. For those who can, there are steps you need to take that your employees are being as efficient and organized as they can be. Making sure your team meets on a regular basis, whether in-person or digitally is crucial. In this modern age, even people thousands of miles apart can work together and carry out goals. If you are looking for a more cost-effective way to run your business and keep employees, offering telecommuting options to your employees may be the way to go.
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