Never before has it been so easy to participate in a conference call from your backyard or generate company reports in your pajamas. Some even run an entire company from their kitchen table. Working from home is growing in popularity and it’s easy to see why. As long as you have an internet connection and a smartphone, you can run the world from wherever you are. The only thing missing is the coworkers, commute, and office politics.
The benefits aren’t just for the employees either. Employers save thousands of dollars on employees who work from home. It allows companies to downsize or even completely eliminate the cost of office space, lowers costs for office supplies, reduces parking issues, etc. In addition to lower costs, it may actually increase productivity. A recent study by Stanford University found that employees who work remotely are often more productive and work longer hours than those who head into the office.
Sounds like utopia, right? You get to stay in pajamas all day and your employer gets to save money and everyone is more productive. But before you turn in your keycard, there are some significant downsides to working from home that aren’t so obvious.
Working from home sounds glorious, until you realize that you also live at home. Trying to conduct business while you’re children fight over the TV remote and your spouse is vacuuming can be irritating at best. Even if you have a separate office space, it is nearly impossible to be completely uninterrupted, especially if you have young children at home.
While you love to hate your commute, that time in the car gives you valuable space to transition from professional to daddy at the end of the day. Working from home makes it hard to instantly transition into your family live mere seconds after a stressful phone call with your boss or coworkers.
Studies show that employers benefits from increased productivity from those who work at home. The other side of that coin is a tendency to be working more hours than perhaps you should. It’s easy to work into the wee hours of the night when you don’t have to get home for dinner, or you can pick up where you left off after the kid’s soccer practice. Finding and setting boundaries to ensure work doesn’t take over your life is critical for those working from home.
Sure, you can have lunch with your wife and play cars with your kids in the middle of the day. Those who work from home miss out on the social aspects of colleagues though. Socializing in the workplace is beneficial for everyone. On both a personal and professional level it increases loyalty, creativity, and collaboration. Sure, this can be created through webcam phone calls, but there’s something about grabbing a morning cup of coffee with a colleague that you can’t recreate without leaving your home.
The good news is, you actually can have your cake and eat it too. You don’t have to have an all or nothing approach. Many companies offer the option for employees to work from home 2-3 days a week on a rotating schedule. This gives employees the flexibility of working from home occasionally while still allowing for engagement, collaboration, and office productivity. Many companies also allow employees to work from home on sick days or through maternity leave rather than taking extended PTO.
Telecommuting on a part-time basis is a great way to attract and retain employees while lowering costs for companies. There are endless possibilities of flexible schedule options to provide benefits to both the company and the staff and create the most positive and productive environment yet. And yes, there will likely be Disney Channel in the background.