Going to work in an office can be stressful and costly for both employee and employer. Thanks to technology many people have the option of working from home (or off-site at that warm beach somewhere!). For consultants and freelancers there are obvious reasons why you should work from home (you might not have another choice anyway!) but for full-time employees there are financial and personal advantages to working at least a couple days per week from home. Not every profession allows for this flexibility but if yours is one of the many that do, here are some benefits to look into for both employer and employee.
Lower Costs for Employers
Reduced office costs
Fewer people in the office results in lower office bills: less coffee to provide, fewer paper clips to stock, fewer phone calls to pay for, less toilet paper to buy and so on.
Managers may plan to have a certain number of employees working from home at any given time and may even choose to have smaller offices where employees rotate among desks. These days so much is done by email that an employee might not even need his or her own number at work but should he or she really need it, technology may permit call forwarding, calls over the internet and whatever else is possible.
(If you’re an employee and you’re terrified of not having your own desk with your own stacks of documents, check out this 14 minute video about Semco, a company in Brazil in which employees in fact are not allowed to use the same desk all the time. But be warned: after learning about Semco you might never see work the same way again!)
Reduced health insurance costs
Employees who have more flexibility in their schedules tend to be happier people because they may arrange their schedule to include running errands, taking care of their children and getting enough rest and exercise. Happier employees = healthier employees = lower health insurance costs. You may read about the “link between psychological health and overall health” here.
Lower Costs for Workers
Less fuel and other car expenses
In 2009 Cisco released the results of their survey of nearly 2,000 of their telecommuter employees around the world. On average each employee saved approximately US$5,000 in 2008 in fuel expenses alone by telecommuting (the total for all surveyed was US$10.3 million). Working from home you’ll also be putting fewer miles on your car and reducing gas emissions.
Lower child care expenses
Although working from home you’ll still need to dedicate the same amount of time to work, you can still be the person who will drop off and pick up your children after school, take them to the doctor or even watch out after your toddler for half of the day. But most importantly, the time you spend with your children is priceless, which brings us to the next section.
Personal Reasons To Work from Home
Spending time with your children
Thirty five hours per week at work (40+ for Americans) plus commuting time all adds up to time not spent with your children. Both you and your children will be happier if you spend more time with them. But you can always ask your children what they think.
In my own experience, I feel very lucky I had my dad around when I was a child. Due to his working schedule, Dad spent half days at home and it was just awesome to see him around! He could just be taking care of our dog or taking a nap before his next shift but there was a very warm feeling in knowing that Dad was around to take care of me if I needed him.
More time for oneself
You may put the time you spend commuting towards your hobby, favorite sport, studying or other experience more enriching than attacks of road rage and smelling the armpits of that guy in the metro who’s never heard of deodorant.
When employees have more time to be with their families or to do things for themselves, they’re happier people. Happier people are less stressed out and are less likely to make mistakes. Happier people are more productive, which leads to more work done and more money saved. This I learned from Dr. Foo, my neurologist in NYC (great guy, by the way!), but in reading an article at CNN some supervisors see the productivity value in flexibility as well. One supervisor mentions that employees are more committed to a company that allows them to have flexible schedules. Another manager explains that having employees with flexible schedules is an advantage to her because that way her company may expand its working hours to better cater to the 24/7 business cycle in which it works.
If you’ve never thought of working from home but your company offers this option, you might be interested in finding out how such arrangement works out for you. If your company doesn’t have a work-from-home program, you may be in a position to ask your boss about this arrangement.
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You haven’t really accounted for the MASSIVE amount of distractions one finds at home. Imagine how hard it would be to not while away 20 mins here or there infront of the television. And then what? 20 mins here and there fast becomes hours.
I’m CERTAINLY not against the idea! But there are some other things to consider…
You know, funnily enough, I find there are many, many more distractions in the office than at home. I’ve worked in both environments and I always get a lot more done in the home office.
That said I have known people who just can’t get things done in their own home. I bet a big part of my improved functionality at home is due to having invested significant cash in setting up a home office that suits my working needs and gets me into a productive zone very easily.
I will support Joel here – I found that working at home usually lets me do more, especially when I’m home alone with my wife out at work. Office can be pretty distracting when everyone wants something from you and often you just can’t tell them to bugger off. You can be more direct when talking to your family members, so I found it easier to tell them that I’m busy and should not be disturbed.
I definitely feel that there are way more distractions at the office. People walking around and talking, people printing, if you have office mates then that is a distraction right there…and ect.
The working from home mentality needs to creep into more and more managers/owners minds. Of course, most of those people don’t believe in their employees enough to let them work from home. I am not advocating for every day at home; however, a couple (2-3) times a week at home should be more than manageable for most teams. Wonderful article.
You know, Mariusz and Braden, when I’m in the office I start to do the same thing. Instead of emailing I’ll just talk to someone about an idea and distract them from what they are doing when it’s not really important enough to warrant that distraction. And yet if I sit at the computer without speaking to anyone I start to wonder why I came all the way in. 😉
You have all raised some good points here. I guess I am just a bit skeptical and maybe lacking a little in trust. If i weren’t self-employed, I would be concerned that I was wasting time at home. Similarly, if I had employees working from home I would be thinking “I bet you Barry is sitting at home watching Oprah instead of working right now”.
That all said, my wife worked from home every now and then in her old job and thought it was the best thing out. Perhaps I should re-consider the idea?
Joel, I do find that happening a bit. Thankfully though, i get in the zone nicely with headphones on and can become very productive. why couldn’t I do that at home though right? Tell you what though, the number of times i have had my breakfast scared through me by someone standing behind me would (while I have my headphones on) are well beyond a joke now!
As a self employed person, I can see the financials being one MAJOR incentive for working from home. One internet connection, one phone etc etc, and no retail rent.
Yeah, not only do you get to save the expense of a work space, a second internet and phone line, etc, you can keep the deductions on your office stuff and subsidize things like your home electricity and phone to an extent.
Proving a good interesting topic hey 🙂
There are pretty much equal amount of distractions in both environments. However, most offices enforce productivity minded “rules” and codes of conduct to prevent them…
Whereas most homes encourage disruptive conduct, or are at least conducive to it.
It might be a good idea to start establishing boundaries and making change to create a positive environment for working at home, versus pointing fingers at the environments!
“I bet you Barry is sitting at home watching Oprah instead of working right now”.
You should WANT Barry to be watching that show. Because you understand that Oprah, through her cool tones allows him to relax and work more clearly and ultimately get more done. On the flip side it is 4:00EST and Barry is watching TV because he was able to dominate all day without interruptions, and got all of his work done 1.5 hours before “the end of the workday.”
It looks like a win-win in my mind.
@Braden – That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.
Come, lads! Let’s all aspire to watch Oprah! *battle cry*
Heheheh… good one.
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Warm recommendations to start working from home to those who wishes to spend a lot more time with their families and earn a great salary with spending only a few hours each day.
I did it 2 years ago and I’m the happiest man ever
That’s a fair comment. I haven’t had enough experience working at home to know.
So have you effectively set up a full “home office” so as to replicate a commercial working environment. Does this help you “get in the zone”?
Very interested in this topic as I look at the idea of moving back to working at home if the need arises.
Hey Mark! It’s not quite a replication of the commercial working environment. Well, maybe it is in a sense, but it resembles more of an executive office than a regular office or cube, with a large desk with plenty of working room, two large screens to work on (27″ and 24″), and all the music equipment that I used to use in my work at Audiotuts+ (I manage not to get distracted by the music stuff, but noodling on a guitar is amazingly helpful when you need to get off the computer and think about a work project).
One thing that’s hugely important to me: it’s got more natural light, as opposed to fluorescent office lighting which personally gives me a headache and causes fatigue. I’ve got a good chair, and while the one at the company office is very good as far as office chairs go, this one is hand-picked from a large office furniture workshop so I know I got something that suited me more than all the other options.
I also find having music playing through good quality speakers is a great work aid. It keeps a certain pace going. Wearing headphones, as you need to do in the office, just makes me paranoid that someone is standing over my shoulder and I don’t even know they’re there. I don’t know about you but I stall up creatively when I think my work-in-progress is being watched.
Yes, I also have a “home office” and it helps a lot.
When I am in there I work, otherwise I don’t 🙂
Simple but true.
There are many distractions that I deal with working at home, especially with my two little ones. But I find that sooner or later (usually the latter) I realize I have to get work done if i want to pay the bills and that helps me to focus again.
I love being able to work at home and especially the flexibility! I don’t have to miss important events and I can be there to help out when my family needs me.
The fact that I can work when and where I want is one of the biggest appeals for working from home.
Currently in the office there are construction works on the lower floor for 5 months and 4 more months to come, I have next to me a team of 4-5 which are almost constantly on the phone, few guys that love to laugh crazy about youtube videos, a horrible PC which is running a hard to use OS, not to mention the inferior software, it’s usually cold in the winter (far colder than I can bear; got sick 4 times in 1 winter) and with 1 toilet for 40 people it really takes some waiting until you get in … so, when compared with home : DSL, iMac + software of choice installed, quiet area .. I mean my productivity there is at least 500% more than compared to here in the office
I agree with Yoana. Working from home provides a great deal more flexibility, and, I might add, a far more pleasing work environment. I much prefer the comfort convenience of home than having to slog through traffic just to sit in a dull, gray cubicle for nine hours. And, as she also points out, the need to show concrete results, and maintain a steady income to pay the bills, is enough enough motivation to stay focused.
When I first started doing the odd day or two working from home, the novelty and distraction factor was big.. But now, as Yoana has said, the focus is brought about when the realisation hits that you still have deadlines to meet… and bills to pay!
Look at what I miss being in the Pacific Time Zone! 🙂
I can tell you that I get a lot more done at home because I’ve managed to foster enough self-discipline to do so. That’s the biggest hurdle, in my opinion.
Once you’ve got that out of the way and you treat working from home much in the same way as working from a cubicle, it can prove to be an effective solution.
If only I could work from exclusively…sigh.
Thanks for all of the feedback and comments, folks!
Today is my 1 month anniversary of going FT freelancer – and there have been a few challenges in the working from home arrangement, but they seem to be smoothing themselves out.
A dedicated start time and lunch time have been helpful. Minimizing the distractions the intertubes provide is the same at home as it was at work.
Also, having a massive amount of deadlines certainly helps to keep me on task…
Great post – thanks for the tips.
I’m glad you all found this topic interesting.
At home it was hard for me to have discipline at first but once I get used to it things worked out well. Not everyone will like working from home but you won’t know till you try 🙂
You know, at my last office I liked to come in early or stay late when I had deadlines because the office was practically empty and ONLY then could I actually do anything since when people were around I’d get interrupted every 5 minutes; either someone wanted to ask a question or tell me about their vacation or something.
I’m curious what your thoughts are if your commute is only 30-40 minutes. I read on the train so I’m getting stuff done anyway, but otherwise the big points for working from home seem to be spending time with your kids.
But how are you gonna work if you’re watching your kid?
As far as spending time with your kids is concerned, the point here is that by not having to physically go to an office, you have – all things being equal – more flexibility with your schedule. You can take a few hours away from work, do the family thing, then turn your attention back to work more easily than if you were chained to a cubicle.
I personally think working from home has so many benefits. You don’t have constant noise of people talking, typing and doing what ever else they do. That saying, working from home, yes true you can get distracted easily, but same applies to at work office.
Theres so many ways to look at things. But working from home is a better option in my eyes.
I agree – I get a fair bit done during in-house work, but when I’m freelancing, I find I’m so much faster, so much more organised, and more in control of my working life – I feel calmer knowing that I can just focus on doing my best work, and take breaks when I feel ready to 🙂
Unfortunately, many employers are still reluctant to allow people to work remotely because they feel they need to “see” that you’re actually working. (We’ve since developed an app to help persuade reluctant bosses: http://www.peerdrum.com)
I’ve been working from home for over ten years. Initially as an employee for an out-of-state design firm, but I then decided to open my own business.
I found that one of the largest hurdles is that having young kids at home can certainly add a level of chaos to the home work environment. Many of my friends can’t understand how I can get anything done with 2 screaming kids in the house all day. You definitely need to make a private work area, and you need to set designated times that you will not be disturbed. I’m lucky to have a wife who’s a great Mom and can keep the beasties at bay while it’s “work time”.
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I may be wrong but I dont see downsides about working from home, as long as you’re being successful. Nothing beats it.
Sorry, but I think those who are working for a business or government and so called “working at home” are just bludging. Those of us who can’t do that know it and we all talk about you knowing you aren’t doing a damn thing.
I would LOVE to work from home – I know for a fact I would be 100 times more productive if I could. I’ve been thinking about how to go about asking my boss to allow me as I’ve only been working there for 1 month. Anyone have any advice? Please help!
Peerdrum is the answer you’re looking for. Show this to your boss and you should be set! 😉
Yes! I agree with some points. Working from home is really a big cut on our budget. I have been working from home for almost a year now and it’s really a totally different experience. During quick breaks, I get to cuddle with my kid for a couple of minutes.
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Thanks for the tips, will help me in deciding.
There are indeed many benefits to working at home! My list would be:
1. Flexible hours/schedule
2. Lower transportation costs
3. Tax write offs (if you run your own in home business)
4. Instant access to snacks 😉
5. You make your work space to your specs (as comfortable as possible)
6. You can listen to music as loud as you want to, or as quiet without bothering anyone.
7. Not as tempted to go out and eat unhealthy meals at fast food joints
Some downfalls to working from home:
1. So many distractions (kids, phone, neighbours, visitors, tv, sleeping)
2. On the hook for medical/dental etc if you are self employed
3. The onus is on you to succeed (noone to blame but yourself)
4. Taking time away from work is hard for some people to do (you may work way more hours than you should)
Hi, I’ve been a homeworker for more than a year now.
If you want a good argument to take to the boss, try this one.
“My commute is (x hours) per day.
If I work at home, i will suffer the odd distraction, but, generally, as a boss you will gain access to me for the time I was commuting. I’m not committing to x extra hours per day, but more time in my life means more time for my work”
Hope this helps 🙂
There are many, many advantages for both employers and employees with a Work From Home (WFH) situation. One of the bigger issues for me, when working a corporate lifestyle, was the commute. My commute varied from 45 – 80 minutes each way, sometimes longer! That pretty much makes every work day 10-12 hrs while still only getting paid for 8. The extra time in the car cost fuel, wear and tear on the vehicle, and slowly ate away at my sanity. I was fortunate enough to champion a WFH program for our dept, which is still implemented today. Depending on the persons role, they are now allowed 1 or 2 days/wk to WFH. This made a TREMENDOUS improvement in the overall work morale and the increased productivity was noticed by all. Sure, you get the one or two who feel its a right, rather than a privilege and eventually get caught taking advantage of the system, but with the right checks and balances, it can be made fair for all by making it contingent on proving one’s accountability with clearly defined expectations. That was my first taste of working from home, which made me realize how much I dreaded the corporate environment and spurred me on to define my own future. Now I work from home everyday and I am my own boss. So much happier!
One of the best parts of working from home is the freedom it gives you from following a either a 9 to 5 existence or a shift pattern, allowing you to fit your working hours around your personal life. As well as choosing your own hours, partnering with Arise Virtual Solutions also gives you the advantage of choosing the clients you service. As with any work-from-home opportunity, there are multiple other benefits such as the lack of a commute, and substantial savings that can be made for example in travel costs and in lunch/ takeaway coffees if you are used to buying them. If you have already decided that working from home could be the opportunity for you, we have posted an article with handy tips for setting up your home office.
Being a telecommuter myself for three years now, I can say that working from home has made me more productive than when I was in an office. The flexibility of work schedule and the freedom of where to work resulted to much lesser stress and thus better productivity.
Telecommuting is not easy though. At best, the telecommuter must have the discipline and the work ethic to function even without a boss peeking over his/her shoulder. Productivity monitoring tools like TimeDoctor also helps. Let me share this slideshow for those who want to make telecommuting work for them: http://www.slideshare.net/cloydwaldo/preparing-your-business-for-telecommuting
I know I’m coming into this discussion rather late. I’ve been running an in-home business since 1996, and it rocks!
Yes, it does take some discipline. But the scheduling freedom you get is hugely worth it. I was a single mom when I started my in-home business, worked when my kid was in school or in bed, and got to spend most of his waking home hours with him, and still put in a full week’s work, with no babysitter needed.
Now, with gas prices as they are, and the whole climate change thing that I’d rather not be making worse, I couldn’t imagine having to commute anywhere!
One key thing to do, if you have the square footage, is to block off the area from which you work. Although there are advantages to having your home at your immediate disposal while you’re at work, and vice versa, an actual physical barrier between the two areas helps make for a mental barrier as well. When the work day comes to an end, there is value in ‘unplugging’ from the work.
A generation ago, the thought of someone working from home would have been ridiculous.But now it is possible and feasible in the same go.A bigger chunk of new generation are thriving to make money online via sitting in the comfort of the home.
Just recently, I happened to visit a website essekerz.com which offers commission when a product referred by you is bought by anyone else. I was surprised by the fact until I myself earned that extra money.It hardly requires any efforts or investment.Its a sure-shot way to earn money online by spending 2-3 hours a day.
A decade ago, the thought of someone working from home would have been ridiculous.But now it is possible and feasible in the same go.A bigger chunk of new generation are thriving to make money online via sitting in the comfort of the home.
Just recently, I happened to visit a website eseekerz which offers commission when a product referred by you is bought by anyone else. I was surprised by the fact until I myself earned that extra money.It hardly requires any efforts or investment.Its a sure-shot way to earn money online by spending 2-3 hours a day.
You forgot to mention…more time to sneak some Jeremy Kyle on the telly ;P Great article !
I’m all for working from home & would love to get the company I work for on board w/the idea. I really get into what I do & I would love to be able to do it from the comfort of my own home. There would definitely be a lot less distractions and interruptions to my work flow. And I certainly trust myself to do the job I was hired to do because, 1) I care about my work, 2) I care about my customers and 3) I care about the company. Over all I want the company to do well, so we the employee’s can benefit in the end. I believe if someone cannot be trusted to work at home and do a job, then more than likely they aren’t any more trustworthy to do the job as they should in an office either. I could cut out wasted time on the road and a great deal of stress from traffic and time schedules getting to work on time & rushing home to let my dog out after working late (usually because traffic’s so bad I just keep working). I am only paid to work a 7.5 hour day & get salary, but I never get to benefit from being salary. I work late, but get no overtime and when things are slow, which is rare these days, I certainly don’t get allowed to leave early or take extra time at lunch. Doing my job from home would allow me more opportunity to lead a healthier life style. Finding time to exercise is so hard to do w/the commute time. By the time I get home at night I am frazzled and not at all in the mood for anything. I just end up sitting home every night. If I worked from home, didn’t have to worry so much about my dog having to hold himself for so long (no yard/live in a town house/condo), having more personal time for a life, I may venture out of my home more often for social events. Anyway, hoping one day I can broach this subject w/our HQ’s & see if I can get them on board. My sanity and longevity in this job really depends on it.